(SportsNetwork.com) - The Edmonton Oilers seek a fifth victory in six games on Friday night as they continue their road trip with a stop in Columbus to battle the Blue Jackets.
The Oilers' string of victories comes after the club dropped five straight from Nov. 7-15, part of a 4-15-2 start to the season. Edmonton then ripped off three straight wins for the first time this season and followed up a loss to the Chicago Blackhawks with Thursday's shutout triumph over the Nashville Predators.
Making his first start of the season and with the Oilers, Ilya Bryzgalov made 33 saves to record his 31st career shutout. Bryzgalov was signed by Edmonton on Nov. 8 and made his debut with the club in relief of Devan Dubnyk on Monday versus the Blackhawks.
Bryzgalov stopped 12-of-13 shots faced in that one and was then perfect last night in his first NHL start since April 25 with Philadelphia.
"It was great. Shutouts are always fun," Bryzgalov said.
Edmonton head coach Dallas Eakins was obviously pleased with Bryzgalov's performance.
"Check marks across the board for him tonight. He did a great job," Eakins said.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall scored 51 seconds apart in the second period and Jordan Eberle added an empty-net goal for the Oilers, who have pulled within two points of the Calgary Flames for 14th place out of 15 teams in the Western Conference.
Despite Bryzgalov's shutout, Eakins may give Dubnyk the start tonight. The 27- year-old is 7-3-2 with a 2.19 goals against average in 12 lifetime meetings with the Blue Jackets, including 11 starts.
Dubnyk posted a 14-save shutout when the Oilers and Blue Jackets met for the first time this season on Nov. 19 in Edmonton. David Perron had two goals and a pair of assists in the win, while Eberle and Hall were among the goal scorers.
Sergei Bobrovsky allowed four goals on 18 shots and Curtis McElhinney yielded three on 14 shots for the Blue Jackets, who have lost seven of their past nine versus the Oilers.
However, Columbus has won six of its past eight at home in this series.
The Blue Jackets have split their last six games overall, but followed up an encouraging 6-0 victory in Toronto on Monday with a 4-0 home loss to the Nashville Predators two nights later.
Bobrovsky made 25 saves in defeat.
"It looked like we lacked some energy, we lacked another step," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "But that's not an excuse. There's a way to win that game tonight, and we didn't find it."
The Blue Jackets will visit the Boston Bruins on Saturday and McElhinney could earn a start in one game of the back-to-back set. He is 4-0-0 with a 2.39 GAA in seven games (4 starts) lifetime versus the Oilers, while Bobrovsky is 2-3-0 with a 2.87 GAA in five games (4 starts).
Bobrovsky backed up Bryzgalov for a season in Philadelphia before getting dealt to Columbus and winning the Vezina Trophy in last season's lockout- shortened campaign.
Forward Corey Tropp could make his Columbus debut tonight after being claimed off waivers from Buffalo on Thursday. He has three goals and six assists in 43 career games, including one assist in nine appearances this season with the Sabres.