Edmonton Oilers blown out by Columbus Blue Jackets

Columbus Blue Jackets players celebrate a goal as Edmonton Oilers goalie Cam Talbot (33) looks on during second period NHL action in Edmonton, Alta., on Tuesday March 27, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

The Columbus Blue Jackets came to life after a slow start to pummel the Edmonton Oilers 7-3 at Rogers Place on Tuesday night.

The Oilers couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game, racing out to a 3-0 lead just 10:08 into the first period. After that it was all downhill as the Blue Jackets scored seven unanswered goals.

“We got the start we wanted and then I don’t know what happened,” Oilers defenceman Adam Larsson said after the game. “They’re a good team, they were working hard but I thought our defensive game wasn’t even close to where it has to be.”

“They valued the defensive side — the checking side — a lot more than the team wearing orange,” Oilers head coach Todd McLellan explained. “I think we’re at 250 goals against right now and that’s never going to be a playoff number in any year.

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“No matter who we bring in, who we send out, how we make line combinations — it just isn’t. Last year, we got in with 212 and we were looking to trim that off a little bit and we’re at 250 right now. We’ve got some work to do and we’ve got to make some decisions in the locker room if it’s important or not.”

The Oilers opened the scoring 3:37 into the game. Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky turned the puck over to Connor McDavid behind the net. McDavid centred to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for a tap-in. It was McDavid’s 100th point of the season.

Less than three minutes later, McDavid scored his 40th goal, beating Bobrovsky with a backhand to finish a shorthanded rush. McDavid became the Oilers’ first 40-goal scorer since Petr Klima in 1990-91. Drake Caggiula added a power-play goal, giving the Oilers three goals in 6:31.

READ MORE: Connor McDavid named NHL First Star of the Week

The Blue Jackets came back with three goals in 4:01. Thomas Vanek’s rebound deflected in off Nugent-Hopkins. Artemi Panarin cashed in a rebound 52 seconds later. Vanek tied it with a deflection to cap the first-period scoring.

Columbus continued to dominate in the second period. Boone Jenner and Cam Atkinson scored in the first six-and-a-half minutes, chasing Cam Talbot from the Oilers’ net after allowing five goals on 18 shots. Bobrovsky stopped McDavid on a breakaway later in the frame. Vanek then pounded his hat-trick goal past Laurent Brossoit to make it 6-3 after two periods.

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Markus Nutivaara added one more in the third.

“It was awful, it was horrible. We had a good start and then our game went right back to where it was at the start of the year,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid said after the game. “It’s disappointing since we have been pretty good of late, but we need to find ways to keep pucks out of our net. It wasn’t good.”

With a goal and two assists, McDavid has 102 points on the season to lead Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kuckerov by six points in the Art Ross Trophy race.

The Blue Jackets have won 11 of their last 12.

“It’s weird to say. We’re down 3-0 but it didn’t feel like it just because it was just a couple of dumb mistakes by us that cost us,” Vanek said on his team’s start. “We felt fine about our game going into it and even after 3-0, we felt OK and showed a lot of character and [got] a big two points again.”

The Oilers (34-37-6) will play in Vancouver on Thursday.

Linesman Steve Barton was taken off the ice on a stretcher 3:51 into the first period. McDavid was checked by Werenski and went into Barton’s legs. Barton’s head hit the ice and he appeared to be unconscious for a few moments. He was attended to for several minutes before being put on the stretcher.

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“It happened really fast — that’s part of the game — it does happen fast and I was just trying to get up the ice and got pinched off and I think both of us went down,” McDavid explained about the play. “You never like to see that so I’m glad that everything looks OK right now and we’ll be thinking about him.”

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