Game 75 Recap: Jackets Fall to Oilers in Battle for First Overall Pick

March 23, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Derick Brassard (16) carries the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes at Nationwide Arena. Columbus won the game 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE

In a battle between the two worst teams in the league, the squad sitting 29th out of 30 drove a wedge between themselves and the team in dead last. The Oilers, backed by a five goal effort in the second period, waxed the Blue Jackets.

The Jackets led after one period, but turnovers and poor goaltending killed any chances of coming away with a win. The team defense was doing starter Steve Mason no favors, but Mason was far from sharp himself.

Feel free to read on for the full recap.

First Period

The Jackets came out flying. The team's best line on Friday, the Mark Letestu, R.J. Umberger and Cam Atkinson trio, had the Oilers hemmed in for the first minute and a half.

At the 2:13 mark the Jackets' earned the game's first powerplay when Ryan Smyth was sent to the box for high-sticking. The Jackets couldn't beat Edmonton starter Devan Dubnyk, but David Savard and Nikita Nikitin both looked good with the puck on their sticks. I don't think there's any scenario where Savard isn't a full-time member of the Columbus blueline next season.

Just prior to the powerplay expiring, Rick Nash was called for boarding. The ref had no choice but to make the call, but if players want dangerous hits near the boards out of the game, they need to show a little common sense. Theo Peckham, the recipient of the Nash hit, was already on his knees, lunging for the puck when Nash made contact. Naturally, Peckham was in a precarious position and the contact with Nash sent him into the boards awkwardly. Putting himself in that position leaves me with little sympathy for Peckham. The Oilers didn't convert while up a man. Peckham came back shortly thereafter, but would later retire to the dressing room with apparent concussion symptoms. I'm sure the league will look into the hit, but any discipline towards Nash would put a dent in Brendan Shanahan's credibility.

Midway through the opening period the Jackets' went back to the powerplay. Columbus was able to establish themselves in the Edmonton zone easily, but couldn't get any quality shots through to Dubnyk.

At 16:46, the Jackets opened the scoring. Aaron Johnson gathered the puck just inside the Edmonton blueline, and carried to the net. He fired off a wrist shot, which was stopped by Dubnyk. The rebound dropped in front of the net, where Letestu was on the doorstep to bang in the rebound.

1-0 Jackets: Mark Letestu (Aaron Johnson)

Both teams would trade chances late, but the score remained the same going into the first intermission.

End of the first period, 1-0 Jackets.

Second Period

Just over 90 seconds into the period, Nikita Nikitin was whistled for hooking, after impeding Jordan Eberle in front of Steve Mason. The Oilers moved the puck well, but couldn't score five-on-four. With Nikitin racing to the defensive zone seconds after the penalty expired, Ryan Whitney fired a slapper on-net. The puck was redirected by Ryan Jones in front, beating Mason.

1-1: Ryan Jones (Ryan Whitney, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins)

Shortly after the goal against, Cam Atkinson showcased his tremendous stickhandling ability, shredding the Edmonton defense, but was stopped at the last moment by a well-timed Dubnyk poke-check.

At the 12:18 mark, Nash went to work. After receiving the puck from Letestu, he beat Ladislav Smid, and was sent in on a clear break. He was able to beat Dubnyk, but at the same time was checked into the net. The goal was waived off, but Nash was given a penalty shot. After gathering his breath, he skated in at high speed, beating Dubnyk and giving the Jackets back the lead.

2-1 Jackets: Rick Nash (PS)

MIdway through the period, a scrum ensued after a neutral zone faceoff. Darryl Boyce and Eric Belanger, the two centermen taking the draw, traded slashes. The zebras intervened, but Boyce and Belanger were given matching slashing calls.

The best chance for either team while four-on-four occured when Umberger was sent in on a wide open breakaway. He put a good move on Dubnyk, but the big goaltender shut the door.

Just one second after the teams went back to regular strength, the Oilers tied it up. Recent callup Chris VandeVelde carried the puck inside the Columbus zone, and with Jack Johnson in his face, he wired a shot that beat Mason blocker-side. It may have been redirected, but from my view it was a bit of a softie.

2-2: Chris VandeVelde (Jordan Eberle, Jeff Petry)

A few minutes later, the Oilers took the lead off the stick of Smid. With the Oilers applying pressure in the Columbus zone, the puck made its way back to the point, where Smid blasted a one-timer by Mason. It appeared that the puck went straight in, but it may have gone off the glove of Ryan Russell.

3-2 Oilers: Ladislav Smid (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan Jones)

Shortly after, the Oilers scored again, this time off the stick of Ben Eager. David Savard made two back-to-back turnovers, one in each defensive zone, allowing Eager to gain possession. The shot that beat Mason, like the two previous Edmonton goals, were of the soft variety, at least in my estimation.

4-2 Oilers: Ben Eager (Unassisted)

At 18:10, the Oilers went up by a man when Aaron Johnson was called for cross-checking. After a turnover by NIkitin, Sam Gagner gathered the puck and skated in unimpeded towards Mason, and was able to fire off a shot, beating Mason high.

5-2 Oilers: Sam Gagner (Jordan Eberle, Ryan Whitney)

End of the second period, 5-2 Oilers.

Third Period

The Jackets started the third period with goaltender Allen York between the pipes. York was able to get his first touch early, making a glove save to break the ice.

While chasing a loose puck behind Dubnyk, Derek Dorsett and VandeVelde came together, with VandeVelde giving Dorsett an extra shot as the went into the boards. Dorsett took exception, going after VandeVelde. Both players were given roughing minors.

Just seconds into the four-on-four, Nash was hooked up high by Ales Hemsky, giving the Jackets an abbreviated 4-on-3 powerplay. After a whistle, head coach Todd Richards took his timeout. The Jackets applied a ton of pressure, but couldn't cash in on the man advantage.

The teams were five-on-five for just seconds before the Jackets went back to the powerplay. This time around, however, the Jackets failed to establish themselves in the Oiler zone.

After killing a penalty with under ten left in the period, Ryan Russell came close to beating Dubnyk, but the Edmonton 'keeper shut the door.

With a few minutes left, and with the Jackets on a powerplay, Derick Brassard scored to pull within two. It was a garbage goal off a mosh in front of Dubnyk.

5-3 Oilers: Derick Brassard (R.J. Umberger, Rick Nash)

Late in the period, with Ben Eager in the box, Columbus pulled York. They were unable to score, but the Oilers were able to get the open-net shortie.

6-3 Oilers: Eric Belanger (Ryan Jones, Ladislav Smid)

Final Score: 6-3 Oilers.

Standard Bearers:

  • Mark Letestu continues to find the score sheet.
  • Nash had one-and-one, including a nice move on a penalty shot.

Bottom of the Barrel:

  • Columbus goaltending.
  • Columbus defensive zone play.
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