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COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (30-25-6) at
EDMONTON OILERS (30-25-5)
Start Time: 7:08 p.m. MST
Television: Rogers Sportsnet West (HD)
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.Today's Game Notes | Oilers/Blue Jackets Head-to-Head | Stats Comparison
LINE-UP UPDATES: Fernando Pisani is expected to make his return to the line-up, slotting in on the third line with Andrew Cogliano and Ethan Moreau... Liam Reddox, Kyle Brodziak, and Zack Stortini make up the fourth line... Dwayne Roloson gets the start in net.
by Marc Ciampa & Jessica McPhee | edmontonoilers.com
The Edmonton Oilers continue their four-game homestand tonight with another critical game when they collide with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Blue Jackets have never made the playoffs in their eight seasons in the NHL but this year they find themselves currently in a playoff position - sixth place, to be exact - with 66 points.
Columbus has lost each of its last two games but prior to that they had a stretch where they went 6-0-1. That stretch included wins over San Jose and Detroit as the Blue Jackets make a push for the playoffs.They lost 4-1 in Calgary on Tuesday to open their three-game Western Canadian road swing.
The Oilers are nipping right at the heels of the Blue Jackets with 65 points. They are part of a four-team logjam with the seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th place teams all holding that same point total. However, Edmonton does hold a game in hand on Columbus and a win tonight would vault the Oilers into that sixth spot - one point behind fifth-place Vancouver.
Edmonton had a three-game winless streak snapped with a 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.
This is the fourth and final meeting of the season between these two teams. Edmonton has won twice while Columbus has won once.
Just The Facts...
Bob Stauffer and Louie DeBrusk preview tonight's game Pisani returns to the lineup Pre-game comments from Andrew Cogliano, Liam Reddox, Robert Nilsson & Craig MacTavish The Other Side: Rick Nash, Mike Commodore & Ken Hitchcock Pre-Game Audio... Andrew Cogliano Robert Nilsson Ethan Moreau Liam Reddox Fernando Pisani Craig MacTavish Wednesday's Video:
Ask an Oiler with Oilers General Manager Steve Tambellini Jason Strudwick on living in his hometown of Edmonton; Also - Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish comments on what Strudwick has brought to the team this season
Denis Grebeshkov close to returning; MacTavish comments
MacTavish talks about the tight playoff race
MacTavish on Erik Cole's role with the team and why he does not play on the top line
Tambellini answers your questions - We go straight to the top in the newest Ask-an-Oiler. GM Steve Tambellini sits down with our very own Steve Taylor to answer a handful of fan-submitted questions less than a week before the NHL trade deadline. ...more
The Other Side - news from bluejackets.com
Howson talks trade deadline - eneral Manager Scott Howson was on a conference call with NHL the media on Wednesday afternoon. To listen to the call, click on the link Scott Howson Conference Call 02/24/09 or for more on Howson, read ...more Breaking down the game - In this episode of Breaking Down the Game. Dan will look at how the net can be used to create confusion for the opposing defense. To watch click play or ...more
From the Fans
Click here to read today's gameday thread on the Oilers message board.
Odds and Ends
The Link: MacIntyre at Japanese Village - In this episode of The Link, we take the show on the road. From Japanese Village, Crystal Leriger and Oilers enforcer Steve MacIntyre recap the Oilers Autograph Session at West Edmonton Mall and talk about Steve's favourite things. ...more Barney Bentall visits the Oilers - Canadian musician Barney Bentall showed up at Rexall Place on Wednesday to visit his friend Jason Strudwick. Jen Sharpe caught up with both Barney and Jason. Watch Video
From the Wire (AP)
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason has been hesitant to take a break during a tight playoff race. He might not be too eager for a matchup with the Edmonton Oilers, though.
The Blue Jackets, whose star rookie is showing signs of wearing down, look to avoid another poor defensive effort against the Oilers on Thursday night in a matchup for playoff position in the Western Conference.
With Columbus (30-25-6) seeking the first postseason appearance in team history, Mason has started seven straight games following a bout with mononucleosis. The Blue Jackets have 66 points and are in sixth place in the West, one point ahead of an Edmonton team in a four-way tie for seventh.
"Every game is important right now," Oilers winger Erik Cole said. "It doesn't matter who you are playing. It's that time of year where you can't be squandering points."
Columbus enters this contest having lost two straight after picking up at least one point in seven in a row (6-0-1). Mason, who has a 2.19 goals-against average and seven shutouts, has given up eight goals in his last two contests - three in a 4-1 loss to Calgary on Tuesday night.
Mason also has struggled in two games versus the Oilers (30-25-5), going 1-1-0 with a 4.02 GAA. However, Pascal Leclaire fared much worse in Columbus' only other meeting with Edmonton this season, allowing every Oilers goal and stopping just 19 shots in a 7-2 Blue Jackets loss Nov. 18.
Leclaire will be out at least another six weeks after having ankle surgery, so Wade Dubielewicz is Columbus' only option if it decides to give Mason a breather. Dubielewicz, though, has played in just two games this season.
Regardless of who is in net for the Blue Jackets, the Oilers will be looking for another boost on offense as they try for their fifth straight home win in the series.
Edmonton had scored a total of six goals in three straight losses before beating Tampa Bay 5-3 on Tuesday night as Sheldon Souray had two goals.
The Oilers were coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to provincial rival Calgary on Saturday night, when the Flames tied the game with 1:05 left in regulation.
"This was huge for us to get the momentum moving forward," Oilers center Sam Gagner said after Tuesday's victory. "Especially after the last three games. We had a couple mistakes but we also did a lot of things right. ... It was a character win. Hopefully we can build on it."
Cogliano scored his 14th goal but just his second in the last 22 games. The second-year center has five goals and three assists in seven games against the Blue Jackets.
Columbus center R.J. Umberger, meanwhile, has five goals in his last six games and has set a career high with 21 this season. However, he's been limited to one goal and no assists in four career contests versus Edmonton.