COLUMBUS, Ohio – Devan Dubnyk held things down on his end of the ice, and his Edmonton Oilers teammates took advantage of just enough opportunities to end their five-game losing streak.
Magnus Paajarvi scored a go-ahead short-handed goal with 3:10 remaining and Dubnyk made 39 saves to lift Edmonton past the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 on Sunday night.
“You need a goalie to steal one for you once in a while,” Edmonton coach Ralph Krueger said. “We were really flat as a team and he was just world class and outstanding all the way through. He stuck with it even after it was 1-1. He was our leader today in every category.”
Sam Gagner added an empty netter — Edmonton’s second goal on just three third-period shots — and assisted on the game-winner. Ales Hemsky scored in the first period for the Oilers, who still have earned points in four of their last six.
“A little more work than usual,” said Dubnyk, who tracked the puck well all game, particularly on Columbus’ seven power plays. “But that’s how you have to win games sometimes. That’s my job to stop whatever comes at me.”
Gagner also gave all the credit to the game’s No. 1 star.
“We were pretty flat for most of the night coming off a back-to-back,” he said referring to Saturday’s 2-1 loss in Detroit. “We just didn’t have our legs for whatever reason. Dubbie was unbelievable for us. He made some great saves and really kept us in it.”
R.J. Umberger finally scored his first of the season to tie it in the third for Columbus, which lost its third straight despite outshooting the Oilers 40-14 overall and 15-3 in the third period.
“Tonight was definitely our highest-scoring chance game that we created,” Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. “The goalie was the difference in the game.”
Dubnyk seemed poised for his fifth career shutout until Umberger broke through. He stepped around Hemsky and Gagner before scoring with a low shot from the slot at 9:43
Edmonton didn’t have a shot at that point of the period and Columbus continued to press. Four minutes later, Matt Calvert skimmed a shot off the right post and Nick Foligno did the same not long after that on a man-advantage.
But moments later, on the same power play, the Oilers found room heading the other way. Down the left wing, Gagner dished the puck to Paajarvi, who netted a high wrister for his first over the shoulder of Sergei Bobrovsky.
“We stuck to it,” Paajarvi said. “When we have a chance on the PK we want to go. I tried to scream as much as I could. I don’t know if he heard me, but great pass, great vision.”
Gagner capped off the scoring with his fourth with 13 seconds left.
Jordan Eberle thought he gave the Oilers a two-goal cushion at 9:18 of the second period on an odd play that was ruled a no-goal on the ice and upheld a video review. After rookie Nail Yakupov blocked Bobrovsky’s clearing attempt behind the goal, the puck ramped off James Wisniewski’s stick and over the net to Eberle, who batted it in.
Dubnyk was spectacular in the first period, making several pad saves before Hemsky capitalized on a giveaway by Wisniewski. Taylor Hall intercepted the breakout pass in the low slot. The puck caromed toward Bobrovsky, who swiped at it, but the puck bounced off Hall and Bobrovsky then came to Hemsky for an easy one-timer for his fifth at 13:58.
“Sometimes to get out of a funk like that you need a win like this — which is ugly, roll your sleeves up and play to the end,” Krueger said.
NOTES: Wisniewski returned after missing two games with a concussion that he suffered crashing violently into the end boards. … The Oilers head back to Alberta to start a five-game homestand. … The Blue Jackets wrap up a season-high six-game (1-3-1) homestand against San Jose on Monday. …Edmonton, with the league’s fourth-best power play, finished 0 for 4.