EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Oilers coach Tom Renney called out his team after a disappointing loss earlier this week, and the players showed they got the message.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and an assist, Devan Dubnyk stopped 22 shots for his second shutout of the season and Edmonton beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0 on Wednesday night to snap a three-game skid.
Taylor Hall and Linus Omark also scored as the Oilers won for just the second time in eight games (2-5-1). Edmonton improved its total to 61 points, ahead of only league-worst Columbus (51).
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“It was a lot better. I thought the guys responded really well,” said Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff. “We got challenged and we wanted to respond to it. We wanted to come out with a really solid effort and was really proud to see the way the guys did.”
Renney agreed that what he saw against Columbus was far better than what the Oilers displayed during a 3-2 loss to San Jose on Monday.
“They paid attention for 60 minutes,” he said. “They wanted to do well and take responsibility and that’s good. Collectively we were better defensively.”
Curtis Sanford stopped 24 shots as the Blue Jackets — the only team already eliminated from playoff contention — lost their third straight.
“We had a lot of passengers tonight,” said Blue Jackets assistant captain James Wisniewski. “Nobody was really going. We had our chances to score. All year we have had a hard time scoring goals. Things really haven’t changed in that department. We had opportunities and just didn’t capitalize on them.”
Edmonton had a good opportunity to score in the opening minute with a puck laying in the crease behind starter Curtis Sanford before it was swept away by Columbus captain Rick Nash with the Oilers’ Jordan Eberle in hot pursuit to try to whack it in.
The Oilers had the bulk of the chances in the scoreless first period with 12 shots while Columbus only managed three on Dubnyk.
Edmonton finally broke through 8 minutes into the second period as Nugent-Hopkins came away with a loose puck off the boards and beat Sanford with a quick wrist shot. It was the 16th goal of the season for the 2011 first overall draft choice.
Columbus was awarded a four-minute power play on Hall’s high-sticking call soon afterwards but couldn’t do much with it. The best opportunity belonged to Edmonton on a short-handed breakaway attempt by Eric Belanger.
The Oilers made it a 2-0 game on a late second-period power play of their own as Hall picked up the rebound of Nugent-Hopkins’ shot and slipped it under Sanford with only 5 seconds to play. It was Hall’s fourth consecutive game with a goal and 27th on the season.
Dubnyk kept the Blue Jackets from getting anywhere near the scoreboard and the Oilers put the game away with 90 seconds left on an empty-netter by Omark.
“It wasn’t 40 shots or anything like that but any time you keep them all out you have to give the guys a pat and one for yourself,” Dubnyk said. “It feels good. It was such a good effort right from the drop of the puck for us. That’s what we were so disappointed about in the last game.”
NOTES: Columbus G Steve Mason (lacerated pinkie) has been practicing but was still not ready to play. Allen York served as the backup to Sanford. … Blue Jackets F Derek Dorsett did not travel with the team because of illness but could rejoin the team later on the trip. … Columbus was also missing Derek MacKenzie (concussion) and Fedor Tyutin (broken right hand), who went down with injuries last week. … F Ben Eager, sidelined with a bad back, was out for the Oilers. … Teemu Hartikainen was called up from the AHL and he made the trip in time for the pregame skate. Edmonton then opted to dress bruiser Darcy Hordichuk instead. … Columbus was 0 for 4 on the power play and has not scored in its last 28 chances.