Oilers-Blue Jackets Preview
The Columbus Blue Jackets haven't spent very much time at home lately. The way they've performed there, that may not be such a terrible thing.
The Blue Jackets try to win on home ice for only the second time in eight games and avenge their ugliest loss of the season Friday night against the resurgent Edmonton Oilers.
After returning home following a 3-2-0 trip through Canada that concluded with a 6-0 rout of Toronto on Monday, the Blue Jackets had a chance to build some momentum Wednesday against Nashville. Instead Columbus (9-13-3) was outshot 25-12 over the first two periods and shut out for the second time in five games, falling 4-0.
That left the Blue Jackets without consecutive wins since a season-best three-game run Oct. 20-25.
They've been particularly bad at home recently, going 1-5-1 while scoring only 13 goals.
''We just didn't have the energy level,'' defenseman James Wisniewski said. ''I think we worked. We just didn't have that little extra gear to win that little extra battle."
Wednesday marked the sixth time in seven games that Columbus was outshot, not surprising for a team that ranks 27th in the NHL with 27.6 shots per game.
''Some of it is leadership, youth,'' coach Todd Richards said. ''There are lots of things that add to it. It's tough to just point and say this is the reason for the inconsistency.''
Sergei Bobrovsky has struggled to match last season's Vezina Trophy-winning form, making it hard for the Blue Jackets to win consistently with an offense that averages 2.44 goals.
Bobrovsky has allowed four goals or more in half of his last eight starts, posting a 3.02 goals-against average during that span. He surrendered four or more five times in 37 starts last season.
Columbus should have a little added motivation Friday after losing 7-0 in Edmonton on Nov. 19. That sort of result is nothing new for the Oilers, who are 7-1-1 in the last nine meetings, scoring 28 goals during a 5-0-1 run in the series.
That rout of the Blue Jackets was the second of a season-high three-game win streak for the Oilers (8-16-2), who made it four wins in five games with Thursday's 3-0 victory at Nashville. Ilya Bryzgalov made 33 saves in his first start for Edmonton, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall scored 51 seconds apart in the second period.
''Always like it when they don't score,'' coach Dallas Eakins said. ''And he picked up right where he left off last game. I thought he was solid. He looked big in the net, everything. Check marks right across the page for him.''
Bryzgalov, signed by the Oilers on Nov. 8, has stopped 45 of 46 shots in his first two appearances.
''So far so good,'' Bryzgalov said.
Despite that success, Eakins could go back to Devan Dubnyk on Friday. Dubnyk is 3-1-0 with a 2.04 GAA in his last four starts, and 5-0-1 with a 1.30 GAA in his past six appearances against the Blue Jackets.
Hall has two goals and five assists during a five-game point streak, a run he's poised to continue Friday. He has four goals and eight assists in nine career meetings with Columbus.
Nugent-Hopkins has points in four straight, and a goal and 10 assists during a seven-game streak versus the Blue Jackets.