Blue Jackets 4 Oilers 3
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A night after he was humiliated, Kristian Huselius couldn’t have been happier.
Huselius scored two goals, including the game-winner with four minutes left, and R.J. Umberger had two goals and two assists to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets past the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 on Saturday night.
Caught in an offensive funk, Huselius was a healthy scratch on Friday night in Detroit. Embarrassed, he used the time to contemplate what he needed to do when he returned.
“Sometimes it’s nice to clear your mind and you get away with it,” the Swede said evenly. “And it helps sometimes. Most everybody wants to play . . . It doesn’t really matter. It’s nice to get the win, and that’s the most important thing.”
With the Blue Jackets trailing 3-2 and 6:16 left, Umberger tied it with a nifty move that led to a snap shot.
He showed the puck to Linus Omark and then pulled it back between the winger’s skates before stepping into a shot from near the left dot.
He then passed to Huselius on a 2-on-1 break, with Huselius tucking a wrist shot inside the near post and past goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.
After sliding the puck to Huselius on the winning goal, Umberger took a hard check near mid-ice.
“Those are the best hits you can take,” he said. “When you set up a goal, little things like that — like taking a hit to make a play — is going to be the difference for us. (Huselius) made another great shot there. I’m just happy for him to get back on the scoresheet and play good.”
Edmonton coach Tom Renney could be seen later talking to and consoling Omark with his arm around him.
Magnus Paajarvi had a career-best two goals for the Oilers, who lost their fourth in a row. Both of his goals came on almost identical plays off assists from fellow rookie Omark. Dustin Penner also scored.
“We handed it back to them — we handed it right over,” Renney said. “We were a little bit sloppy. I didn’t like that at all. Our power play killed us, no question about that. But we were still in the hockey game. Then we handed it back in the third period with some bad decisions.”
The Oilers, last in the NHL with a man advantage, had two full minutes of 5 on 3 in the second period but failed to convert.
The win was critical for the Blue Jackets, who have little margin for error as they try to stay in the chase for a playoff spot in the West. They began the night six points out of the eighth and final qualifying spot.
Steve Mason was solid in goal for Columbus, allowing the Blue Jackets to come back from an early 2-0 deficit. He finished with 23 saves.
Kris Russell added two assists. Huselius, who had scored just one goal over the past 13 games, also assisted on one of Umberger’s goals.
“The last time (Huselius) played this team, he had a hat trick and I was hoping he would have that warm, fuzzy feeling against that team,” Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. “He was outstanding. He held onto pucks, had patience and made plays. I’m glad the way he responded. He took control of the situation and was upset about last night and was a big difference in the hockey game.”
It was a reversal of fortune in a 24-hour span for Huselius.
Of the winning goal, he said, “I wanted to make sure we got a shot on net and I shot high and it went in.”
Notes: John Moore, a touted 20-year-old defenceman who was the Blue Jackets’ first-round pick in the 2009 draft, made his NHL debut. He played 11:07, had one hit and blocked a shot. … Khabibulin had 30 saves and was sharp all night. … Mason had stopped 34 shots on Friday night in Columbus’ first-ever shutout win in Detroit.