Edmonton - December 3, 2011 - Heading into the third period, the Edmonton Oilers were staring at a fourth consecutive loss, if they couldn't come from behind to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Oilers managed to find their game and did it in style, with a five goal outburst, that was led by winger Ryan Jones. The hard working Jones scored three third period markers, giving the fan favourite his first career hat-trick and the Oilers a much needed victory, by a score of 6-3.
Edmonton started their night off with a bang, opening the scoring just twenty-one seconds in. After Rick Nash took a tripping penalty at the thirteen second mark, it took the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle duo, all of eight seconds to convert on the power play. Eberle took a nice cross ice feed from RNH and buried his tenth of the season. Not exactly the start the Blue Jackets were looking for. To their credit, Columbus came back hard and took it to the Oilers for the rest of the period. They out shot the home side to the tune of 21-7 and managed to even things up, despite the efforts of netminder Devan Dubyk. With Columbus on a two-man advantage, Mark Letestu took a quick pass from Nash and fired a bullet past Dubnyk to draw the visitors even.
Columbus took the lead just past the midway point of the second, when Tom Gilbert blew a tire in his own end. While carrying the puck out of the Oilers end, Gilbert managed to first fan on his pass and then wipe out in a matter of seconds, which allowed Jackets pest Derek Dorsett to break in all alone and beat the Edmonton netminder for the go ahead goal. Dubnyk didn't help matters, by coming out of his net and charging Doresett with the poorest looking attempt at a poke check that I have seem in some time. The comedy of errors left the Blue Jackets with a one goal lead heading into the third.
Jones squared things up at the 1:41 mark, when he slipped a quick wrap-around past Columbus starter Curtis Sanford. It wasn't a good goal on Sanford's part and his evening was about to unravel...and in a hurry. Less then five minutes later, Ladislav Smid scored his second of the season on a blast from the point that Sanford never saw, courtesy of a Jordan Eberle screen. Smid had gone almost two years in between goals and now has scored two in less then a week. Just like that, the Oilers were in the lead and they kept coming.
Just under two minutes later, Ryan Jones scored his second of the period, snapping a quick shot past Sanford to stretch the lead to 4-2. Columbus responded a few minutes later, when Dorsett knocked a rebound past Dubnyk for his second of the night but the Oilers would put this one too bed, five minutes later, courtesy of Ales Hemsky.
Hemsky took a sweet saucer pass from Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff, in full flight, and blew past the Columbus defence and Sanford, before depositing the puck into the gaping Columbus goal. It was a beautiful play and one that the talented winger desperately needed. Edmonton closed out the scoring when Jones scored his third of the period, into an empty net, after both Horcoff and Hemsky decided to pass up shots at the open net.
Obviously the man of the night, or at least period, was Ryan Jones. He continued the trend of scoring big goals for this team and and in bunches. Last night was a perfect example of why Jones needs to be in the Oilers bottom six. He finds ways to score, no matter who he plays with and he gives Edmonton that depth scoring, that they so badly need. In my mind, Ryan is more effective when he sees the ice less and just plays his game.
Devan Dubnyk was solid on the night and was particularly good in the opening period. While Devan didn't make any "ten-bell saves", he looked much more confident in the nets. Outside of his rebound control being so-so and looking awful on the second Columbus goal, Dubnyk was very good.
Darcy Hordichuk going out and looking to start something with Derk Dorsett, was nice to see. Dorsett has yet to answer for dropping the mitts with Taylor Hall last season but Hordichuk looked to engage the pesky Dorsett, who refused to answer the bell. Darcy had to settle for fighting Jared Boll and he knocked the Blue Jackets tough guy to the ice, with a right hand. Hordichuk knows his role and he's doing it, on a nightly basis.
Ales Hemsky looked a little better during the first forty minutes, then he had of late but the results were the same...zeros on the score sheet. Not sure what was said to the team between the second and third periods but whatever it was, Hemsky was listening. Ales not only scored the prettiest goal of the night but he threw two big hits and one that sent Fedor Tyutin crashing to the ice and the Rexall faithful into a minor frenzy. This team needs him to find his game for them to have a legit shot at competing for a playoff spot and with Taylor Hall sidelined, they'll need him playing at his best to just stay in the picture.
Ladislav Smid scoring his second of the season. Not everything Laddy does works out but no one on this club works harder and is willing to sacrifice more for this team to succeed, then # 5. The guy bleeds "Blue and Orange" and it is nice to see those types of players rewarded with the odd goal.
Lennart Petrell has been solid on the penalty kill all season but for whatever reason, has now been moved to the third forward pairing. Maybe it is because he's been in and out of the lineup of late but you would think he would be used in the top two sets of forwards. Also, it would allow them to cut back Ryan Smyth's ice time a little and leave him much more fresh to play 5-on-5 and on the power play.
When Ryan O'Marra jumped on the ice, late in the first, Edmonton were hit with another too many men on the ice penalty. The blunder put the Oilers down two men and ultimately yielded the first Columbus goal of the night. Edmonton now sits at the bottom of the league with seven bench minors on the season and it has cost the club on a number of occasions. That's just over one every four games. As good as this teams penalty kill has been this season, they can't just keep giving the opposition freebies if they want to consistently win games.