Edmonton, AB – Ales Hemsky netted the go-ahead goal with 3:08 left in the third period to lift the Edmonton Oilers to a 6-4 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday at Rexall Place.
Sam Gagner added an empty-netter to go with three assists, Magnus Paajarvi registered a goal and an assist, and Shawn Horcoff, Jordan Eberle and Corey Potter each scored once for the Oilers, who have won two straight.
"If we're going to fight our way back into the playoff race, we need these regulation wins," Gagner said. "It's a big win for us."
Nikolai Khabibulin allowed all four goals on 21 shots before being lifted early in the third. Devan Dubnyk was able to stop all nine shots he faced in relief to notch the victory.
Cam Atkinson and Artem Anisimov each posted three points, with Atkinson potting a pair of goals to go with an assist, while Anisimov added a goal and a pair of helpers for the Blue Jackets, who have lost three straight.
Sergei Bobrovsky allowed five goals on 24 shots in defeat.
With the game tied 3-3 after two periods, Atkinson put the Blue Jackets in front with a one-timer just 27 seconds into the third, but the Oilers answered under three minutes later when Potter's blast from the right point snuck past Bobrovsky to make it 4-4 at the 3:06 mark.
Hemsky then gave the Oilers their first and only lead of the contest at the 16:52 mark when he charged down the left wing and skated through the slot to the low right side before cutting in front and sliding a backhand through the five-hole for a 5-4 lead.
Gagner found the empty net at 19:18 to account for the final margin.
"That's a tough way to lose, normally we're very good defensively and normally we don't score that many goals," Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson remarked. "When we do score that many goals and lose it's a frustrating one."
Columbus jumped on top before the Edmonton fans had a chance to settle into their seats, as Matt Calvert set up Atkinson for a one-timer 10 seconds into the contest to tie a franchise-record for the fastest goal to start a game.
Atkinson returned the favor later in the frame, as he slid a cross-ice feed to Calvert for a one-timer from the low left circle that made it 2-0 at 12:04.
Paajarvi's backhand tally with 4:51 left in the first trimmed the margin in half before Eberle tied the game 39 seconds into the second, as he skated around a defender in the slot before beating Bobrovsky from in close.
After having a goal wiped away a minute earlier, Columbus jumped in front late in the second when Anisimov skated into the zone and stopped in the low right circle before beating Khabibulin high to the short-side to make it 3-2 with 1:26 left in the frame.
The lead was short-lived however, as Edmonton lit the lamp just 31 seconds later when Nail Yakupov skated to the low right side before slipping a pretty drop pass to the slot for Horcoff, who rifled a one-timer into the back of the net to make it 3-3 at 19:05.
Columbus and Edmonton each have 33 points and sit three points back of St. Louis for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference ... Columbus fell to 0-2-1 on its four-game road trip that wraps up in Calgary on Friday ... Atkinson's goal in the first period tied Rick Nash's franchise record which he set on Jan. 11, 2006 ... Hemsky's goal moved him into seventh place on Edmonton's all-time scoring list ... Paajarvi has scored a goal in all three games against Columbus this season.