After a less-than-satisfactory effort two days earlier drew some harsh words from their coach, the Edmonton Oilers turned in a solid 60-minute performance on Wednesday night -- and reaped the rewards.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and an assist as the Oilers snapped a three-game losing streak by blanking the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0 at Rexall Place. Devan Dubnyk stopped 22 shots for his second shutout of the season as the Oilers won the battle between the NHL's two worst teams.
"More than anything you think about the win," Dubnyk said. "You don't worry about the shutout."
Taylor Hall and Linus Omark also scored for Edmonton (27-37-7), which won for just the second time in eight games and rebounded from a poor showing in Monday's 3-2 home loss to San Jose.
"We paid attention for 60 minutes," coach Tom Renney said. "They wanted to do well, take responsibility."
The Jackets (22-41-7), the only team mathematically eliminated from the playoff race, dropped its third in a row -- and coach Todd Richards had nothing nice to say about his team's performance.
"We didn't work to have things go our way," he said. "We didn't pay the price that was needed to be paid to get things to go your way. Tonight was as bad as we've played all year. I'm real disappointed in how we played the game.
"Winning is hard. Paying a price is hard. The things that we've done in the past were non-existent tonight. … We have to understand how we need to play to score goals -- shoot pucks and get to the net. We didn't do enough -- not nearly enough, not even close."
Edmonton dominated play in the scoreless first period, outshooting Columbus 12-3. The Oilers finally got on the board at 7:40 of the second period when Nugent-Hopkins came away with a loose puck off the boards and beat Curtis Sanford with a quick wrist shot. It was the 16th goal of the season for the first player taken in last June's NHL Draft.
Just 65 seconds later, Hall gave Columbus a four-minute power play when he drew a double minor for high sticking. But the Jackets did little with the opportunity; the best scoring chance was a shorthanded breakaway by Edmonton's Eric Belanger.
The Oilers made it a 2-0 game with five seconds left in the period when Hall fired the rebound of Nugent-Hopkins' shot under Sanford for a power-play goal. Hall, the first player chosen in the 2010 draft, extended his goal-scoring streak to four games with his 27th of the season.
Dubnyk stopped all nine shots he faced in the third before Omark hit the empty net with 1:33 remaining.
"The final score is exactly what it should have been; it probably should have been more than 3-0," Richards said. "We didn't do enough through the game to earn anything tonight."
Asked about his team's next game in Vancouver on Saturday, Richards said that, "if they watch this game, there's going to be some excited players over on their side."
In contrast, there were plenty of smiles in the home dressing room.
"Tonight we battled for the entire 60 minutes," forward Ryan Jones said. "Getting a win and playing as well as we did was good. The home crowd deserved it."
The Oilers play the third game of a four-game homestand against Calgary on Friday -- a game the Oilers are looking forward to even though there's nothing at stake for them in the playoff race.
"If you want to be a spoiler, you have to win. So let's do that," Renney said.
Material from team media was used in this report