EDMONTON — Credit Mikko Koskinen with stealing a win for the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.
Koskinen made 45 saves and Alex Chiasson had a goal and an assist as Edmonton beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 to move into a tie for first place in the Pacific Division with the Vegas Golden Knights.
Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said Koskinen saved his team's bacon on the night.
"He was unbelievable, the rest of the group wasn't so unbelievable," he said. "I don't know if it was mental fatigue or whatever it is, but we were not good tonight. Our execution was poor and our ability to win battles to get to pucks was really poor, but our goaltender was really good, so we got two points."
Chiasson also expressed dismay that Koskinen needed to be as sharp as he was.
"There's probably one reason why we win the game, our goaltending," he said. "At this time of year, the way the standings are, every game is meaningful. You would think maybe we would be on our toes a little bit more."
Caleb Jones, Connor McDavid and Riley Sheahan also scored for the Oilers (37-24-8), who have won four of their last five.
Gustav Nyquist replied for the Blue Jackets (32-22-15), who have gone just 2-6-6 in their last 14 games. Goalie Joonas Korpisalo turned aside 20-of-23 shots.
"I don't think we could have played any better," said Columbus head coach John Tortorella. " We just played good as a team. We played good as a team away from the puck. Their goalie is the difference. That's the different in the game, their goaltending."
Chiasson beat Korpisalo from a distance for his 10th of the season three minutes into the game on the game's first shot.
Koskinen had to be extremely sharp in Edmonton's net in the first period as Columbus had a hefty 21-7 edge in shots.
After a scoreless second period and with Columbus controlling the bulk of the play, the Oilers got an insurance marker with 4:31 to play in the third as a point shot from Jones eluded a screened Korpisalo.
Less than a minute later, Zack Kassian was able to advance a short pass to McDavid, who scored his 33rd of the season to make it 3-0.
Columbus broke Koskinen's shutout bid with just 59 seconds left to play as Nyquist deposited his own rebound into the net on his team's 46th shot of the game.
Edmonton finished off the scoring with an empty-net goal from Sheahan.
The Blue Jackets are right back at it with a game in Vancouver on Sunday, while the Oilers remain home to face the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday.
Notes: It was the second and final meeting of the season between the two teams, with the Oilers winning the first contest 4-1 back on Oct. 30… It was the first of 10 home games in March for Edmonton… Oilers defenceman Oscar Klefbom returned after missing the last nine games with a shoulder injury, leaving the team with just Joakim Nygard (hand), and Mike Green (knee) out with injuries… It is a completely different story for the injury-riddled Blue Jackets, who were without Seth Jones (ankle), Josh Anderson (shoulder), Cam Atkinson (ankle), Oliver Bjorkstrand (ankle), Brandon Dubinsky (wrist), Nathan Gerbe (groin), Dean Kukan (knee), Elvis Merzlikins (concussion), Alexandre Texier (back) and Ryan Murray (undisclosed).
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2020.
Shane Jones, The Canadian Press