Edmonton Continues To Have Jackets Number

Edmonton forward Fernando Pisani scored the game winner in the third period as Edmonton (9-8-1) went on to defeat Columbus (5-12) 3-1 and continue their dominance over the Jackets, remaining undefeated (9-0-3) ) in their last twelve meetings.

Jason Smith (2) scored in the first while Radek Dvorak (3) added an empty-netter in the wiping seconds to secure the victory for the Oilers.

Todd Marchant (2) scored the Jackets lone goal to notch his second consecutive game with a goal. It was a disappointing night for Columbus as they only allowed Edmonton two shots and had four power play opportunities in the first period. It was the first victory for Edmonton in the last four games and the first home loss for Columbus in the last three games since double home losses to Detroit last month.

Things looked promising right away for Columbus. Just 47 seconds into the game, Radek Dvorak was called for hooking, giving the Jackets the first of four first-period power play opportunities. Edmonton played a stiff defense by allowing Columbus the outside shot, but not much in the middle. On the power play, Bryan Berard took both shots from distances of 46 and 54 feet.

They did get close a few times. Five minutes into the game Nikolai Zherdev saucered a pass to an open Manny Malholtra as they were driving in the Edmonton zone. Malholtra whiffed at the puck and could not connect on the open net.

Throughout the game it became a futile effort as many of the shots were from beyond 30 feet or more. It was only in the third period with less than two minutes remaining that Columbus shot from closer range as they tried in vain to get something past Edmonton goaltender Jussi Markkanen. Edmonton allowed only two shots on the four Jacket power plays in the first period.

"We probably had about eight really quality scoring chances," said Blue Jackets head coach Gerard Gallant. "They play a game where they keep it to the outside and we did not get enough to the middle."

Just after the power play ended for Columbus, Edmonton took their first shot of the game. Jason Smith corralled a pass from Ryan Smyth, who was behind the net and blasted it past Marc Denis from the right face-off circle for his second goal of the season. "No," said Denis when asked if he saw the puck. "I know I got tangled up with Duvie (Westcott) and got spun around. Smith walked from behind the net and the next thing you know the puck went through me. I never saw it."

At 10:53 in the second period, Todd Marchant logged his second goal of the year at he tapped a rebound past Markkanen to even the score. "There was a turnover and I stepped up and got a piece of the shot," Markkanen said. "I was diving for the puck (after the rebound) but he (Marchant) got to it first."

In the third period, Edmonton's Shawn Horcoff thread the puck from the back wall toward the slot. Pisani moved around Jackets defenseman Bryan Berard and angled the puck past Denis for the game winner.

"I thought I was there," said Berard. "I saw the puck come to him and I thought I had him covered."

"I was in the slot just going to the net," Pisani said. "I had my stick on the ice. It just bounced off my stick and went into the corner (of the net)."

Marc Denis (3-9 and 29th in the NHL) stopped 18 of 20 shots in the loss, while Markkanen earned his 8th win with 29 saves. He saved his best for last as the Jackets swarmed him and made four quality shots in the last three minutes of the game including Jason Chimera whiffing on the rebound in the crease and Marchant missing on two other chances.

"It gets old, does not it," Denis said. "It really got old, really frustrating. I sound like a broken record saying it was a good effort but the results were not there.

"We were the better team tonight," Gallant said. "We should have won the hockey game but we did not. The guys played their tails off. I can not go in there (the dressing room) and tell them they did not play well.

The Blue Jackets were 0-for-5 on the power play and is last in the NHL.

Asked if he sees some changes in the power play, Gallant replied, "Give me some suggestions, please. I mean it's just not working. can say change, but who do you try? Put five defensemen on? I do not know.

Source by Dave Weissman

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