A visit to struggling Columbus could provide a good opportunity for the Edmonton Oilers to continue their late-season surge.
Fresh off clinching a playoff berth, the visiting Oilers aim for a fifth consecutive victory on Sunday afternoon while trying to hand the Blue Jackets a fifth straight defeat.
Evander Kane recorded a hat trick among his four points while captain Connor McDavid assisted on three goals for Edmonton (46-26-6, 98 points), which secured that playoff spot with a 6-3 home win over Western Conference-leading Colorado on Friday night.
Sitting 23-8-3 since Jay Woodcroft replaced Dave Tippett as the team’s head coach, the Oilers have outscored their opponents 48-25 during their current 10-1-1 run.
“I think we’ve really grown as a team, especially the last couple of months,” said Kane, who has 20 goals with 16 assists in 39 games since joining the Oilers after being released by San Jose.
“It’s great to see the success that we’re having.”
The Oilers sit second in the Pacific Division and are in position to record 100 points for the first time since 2016-17. However, they want to keep the momentum going enough to win their first playoff series since that same season — and more.
“We’re happy about (making the playoffs), we’re proud of that, but we’re long from done,” said Edmonton star Leon Draisaitl, whose 107 points (54 goals, 53 assists) are three shy of matching his career-high total.
Meanwhile, McDavid already has equaled his career-best 116 points (43 goals, 73 assists).
The Oilers’ push to finish strong continues at Columbus, where they’ll try to beat the Blue Jackets (35-36-7, 77 points) for a sixth consecutive time. Jesse Puljujarvi scored two goals and set up another as Edmonton rolled to a 5-2 home win over Columbus on Dec. 16.
Draisaitl has posted consecutive three-point games at Columbus, while McDavid has two goals with eight assists in five career contests at Columbus.
Eliminated from the playoff chase and battered by injuries, the Blue Jackets have managed eight goals during their current 0-3-1 rut. Jack Roslovic notched his career-high 20th goal on Friday, but Columbus failed to hold an early lead and lost 2-1 in a shootout at home to Ottawa.
“You got to score goals,” said Roslovic, who has eight in his last six games.
“Just got to be more direct. Keep shooting the puck.”
Roslovic has yet to score a goal in seven career games versus Edmonton. Meanwhile teammate Elvis Merzlikins lasted two periods after allowing four goals on 29 shots against the Oilers in December. However, he has a 1.73 goals-against average in his last four starts.
Current Columbus backup J-F Berube allowed five goals on 31 shots in his return to the NHL during a 6-4 loss at Anaheim last weekend.
Meanwhile, Edmonton’s Mike Smith has been stellar in posting a 1.75 GAA and .949 save percentage while winning all eight of his April starts. He’s started four straight games over Mikko Koskinen, who has matched a career high with 25 wins, but owns a 4.79 GAA during his current 0-3-1 road slide.
–Field Level Media