Oilers drop final game of road trip
Columbus' Voracek beats Khabibulin for shootout winner
Following a 3-2 loss at Atlanta on Sunday, the Oilers completed their homework on special teams Monday morning under the watchful eye of assistant coach Wayne Fleming, and saw it pay off that night with a pair of power-play goals in Columbus.
Problem is, the Blue Jackets were equal to the task and did their own homework on Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.
Jakub Voracek wired a high shot inside the post over Khabibulin's glove hand in Round 4 of the shootout to give Columbus a 3-2 victory.
"It was a heavy, hard game," said Voracek, who is a career 2-for-4 in NHL shootouts. "They played well, we played well. Both goalies had a very good game. It was a big point for us in the shootout."
Earlier in the shootout, Fedor Tyutin beat Khabibulin between the legs, while Blue Jackets killer Ales Hemsky replied for the visitors.
After Voracek scored, former Columbus forward Gilbert Brule — denied in his previous four attempts in the shootout — was stopped by one-time Oilers netminder Mathieu Garon, who improved his record to 4-1-0 this season and is 18-4 in shootouts.
He kicked aside 23 of 25 shots in regulation and overtime before thwarting Patrick O'Sullivan to begin the shootout.
Going with hot hand
Garon started his second consecutive game in place of a healthy Steve Mason after making 32 saves in Friday's 3-2 win over Anaheim when he stoned top forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in the shootout.
Mason, last season's NHL rookie of the year, allowed eight goals in a 9-1 loss to Detroit last Wednesday and has an .879 save percentage.
"Sometimes it's easier when you play two games in two or three nights," said Garon, who signed to a two-year deal in the off-season to mentor Mason. "It feels like you're getting in a groove a little bit more. That's how I felt today."
Garon, who won 32 games in two seasons with Edmonton, came up big in OT on Monday with stops against Ladislav Smid and Oilers leading scorer Dustin Penner.
Khabibulin, who finished with 30 saves, had the biggest stop in extra time against Kristian Huselius, who got behind Edmonton defenceman Sheldon Souray with 1:36 left on the clock.
"We had a pretty good effort from everyone," said Souray, who collected two assists, his first two points of the season in his second game after missing 16 contests with a concussion. "We had great goaltending. If it weren't for our goaltending, we probably wouldn't have been in the game in the third period."
However, it wasn't enough to prevent the Oilers' ninth loss in 11 road contests (2-7-2). They opened their five-game trip with a 5-3 decision over Colorado before falling to Ottawa, Buffalo, Atlanta and Columbus and are 8-10-3 overall.
'Two real good periods'
"We had two real good periods," Edmonton head coach Pat Quinn said. "The second period we had some turnovers and played too much in our zone. We had some good efforts from our players and we will take positives out of that."
A lack of finish continues to plague Edmonton, which has scored just 24 goals in a 2-9-1 stretch. In the nine losses, the Oilers have found the net 13 times and been shut out on three occasions.
On Sunday, they let a 2-1 lead slip away in the second period by allowing a power-play goal. Twenty-four hours later, Antoine Vermette redirected a Tyutin shot past Khabibulin at 12:26 of the third with Edmonton's Liam Reddox in the penalty box to erase a 2-1 deficit and snap a seven-game goal-scoring drought.
Lubomir Visnovsky gave the Oilers their first lead of the game early in the second period, blasting a shot to the short side past Garon to make it 2-1.
Visnovsky helped set up Hemsky's first-period power-play goal and has two multi-point games this season, while Hemsky's goal was his 31st point in 23 career games versus Columbus.
Hemsky had five points in a 6-4 win over the Blue Jackets in the last meeting between the teams on Oct. 22 at Edmonton.
Anton Stralman also scored for the 11-6-2 Blue Jackets, who climbed to sixth spot in the NHL's Western Conference with their fourth win in five starts.
The Oilers, who went 7-for-25 with the man-advantage on the road trip, host Colorado on Wednesday at 7 p.m. MT. The 12-5-3 Avalanche have lost three in a row.
With files from The Associated Press