They say that if you can't say anything nice, you shouldn't say anything at all, but we DO have a recap to write.
With the Jackets starting their final Western Canada trip last night in Edmonton, there was a hope that a win might at least make the team's slow progression towards the draft lottery a little less of a sure thing, and give fans a bit of room to cheer. Instead, the Jackets ended up handing the Oilers their first win in four tries.
Despite (or perhaps because of) seemingly bad ice conditions, both sides were able to create some big rushes across the ice, but the Oilers were able to get the puck through to Curtis Sanford (who had more than a little luck on his side for a few stops) while the Jackets shot high, shot wide, or shot into the bodies of Edmonton defenders.
Outshot 12-3 in the first period and giving up three shorthanded rushes in the only power play of the first period, it was actually remarkable that the game was still scoreless.
That wouldn't last.
After successfully killing an early Edmonton power play, the Jackets seemed to be working on getting back into the match, but the Oilers would break through thanks to the work of 2011 #1 overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who pulled a puck off the boards in the Jackets' defensive zone from Aaron Johnson, walked around Nikita Nikitin and Derick Brassard, and deposited it in the top corner of the net.
Devan Dubnyk would be asked to do a little more work, stopping a more reasonable 10 shots as the Jackets looked to respond, but a late penalty to Cam Atkinson for high sticking would get cashed in just seconds before the end of the second period when a rebound from a Shawn Horcoff shot got away from a sprawling Sanford. Taylor Hall would find it at the edge of the crease and send it home over Sanford's outstretched pads, and the Edmonton lead was extended.
Despite trading penalties to Rick Nash and Ales Hemsky for some early 4 on 4 play in the third period, the Jackets could not muster a goal, even though they dominated the Oilers offensive zone and outshot the home squad 9-3 in the final 20 minutes.
WIth the net empty for an extra attacker, Ryan Smyth would beat Nikita Nikitin to the puck - appearing to catch the Russian d-man with an uncalled high stick - then kicked it back to Linus Omark, who would sail the empty netter across the open ice.
Final Score: Oilers 3 - Jackets 0
- Jack Johnson / James Wisniewski - They didn't score, but the "controlled chaos" pairing wasn't on the ice for any Edmonton goals, combined for four of the teams' 22 shots, and both logged over 23 minutes of ice time. Their status as a workhorse pair continues to grow.
Bottom Of The Barrel:
- Left Our Sticks At Home - Really, seriously, this was one of the most disjointed efforts we've seen from the team since the coaching change. It felt like the team's passes had no targets and the less said about their defense the better. Maybe it was the jet lag after jumping all the time zones, but nobody seemed to know where anyone else was on the ice.
- Power Outages - After a great stretch of success, the Jackets' PP is now 0-29 in their last six games.
- Out Like A Lamb - While I think we're pretty much all accepting that the team will finish with the worst record in the NHL this season, it would be nice if you at least maintained the illusion of a competitive game.
With a three game losing streak and a 10 point cushion on their way to the lottery, the Jackets will face Vancouver on Saturday and Calgary Sunday before returning home once again.