Jackets take six-game win streak on road to face Oilers
EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Oilers are playing nail-biters. The Columbus Blue Jackets are making a habit of winning big. Something has to give when the teams meet Tuesday night at Rogers Place.
The Oilers' previous six games have each been decided by a goal. Four of them have ended in either overtime or a shootout.
The Blue Jackets arrive in Alberta's capital on a six-game winning streak, outscoring their opponents by a combined 25-9 during that stretch.
Former Oiler Sam Gagner has 18 points in the Blue Jackets' last 20 games.
Columbus has a winning percentage of .731 under coach John Tortorella. The Blue Jackets beat the New York Islanders in Columbus on Saturday, but unlike most teams heading west, the team elected to stay in Ohio and practiced there on Monday before traveling northwest to Alberta.
Usually, if the schedule allows, a team will skate in Edmonton the day before the game. Tortorella also has done away with the morning skate, and the Blue Jackets are proving that practice just might not make perfect.
But Tortorella said his team has a far different attitude than last season.
"We've talked about this last year; it's hoping versus almost a mindset of knowing," he said. "I think when you have some success, and we've had some success early in the season here, you do get that belief.
"The question is going to be when there's a couple of struggles and maybe something happens with a lead in the third period, it goes the other way, which is going to happen in a 82-game schedule - how do you react, there?"
And the Blue Jackets are doing it without leaning on any one line.
"Yeah, we're a team that rolls four lines," said right winger Cam Atkinson, who has six points in his last three games. "That's how we have success. Everyone is involved, that's what we've been doing, and it's been great."
On Monday, Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli announced that defenseman Darnell Nurse had undergone successful surgery to repair ligament and bone damage in a foot. He is expected to be out for another 12 weeks.
But help is on the way. Coach Todd McLellan said defenseman Brandon Davidson, who has been on injured reserve for all but one game this season, could be activated in time for Tuesday's game.
"I think the next game is a good possibility," said Davidson, who played 51 games for the Oilers last season. "I'm just kind of waiting on the last call, but I think things went well on the ice today in practice and over the last little while. I feel I will be available for tomorrow."
To make room, the team sent down defenseman David Musil, son of former Oiler Frantisek Musil, to their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield, Calif.
McLellan said Davidson will need time to readjust to the pace of the NHL game.
"I feel that the call-up players have a better chance of success than the injured players," McLellan said. "They've been playing and they're somewhat up to pace, where Davie will go into the lineup and I think he's played six or seven minutes all season. It will be an adjustment for him, the game is moving pretty fast for him, at least for how he remembers it."