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Stuart Skinner backstops Edmonton Oilers to win over Blue Jackets

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Stuart Skinner made 36 saves as the Edmonton Oilers beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2 Thursday night at Rogers Place.

The win ends the Oilers’ six-game losing streak.

“Specialty teams, secondary scoring and timely goaltending,” Oilers assistant coach Glen Gulutzan said when asked what made the difference on Thursday night.

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The Oilers exploded for three goals in the first period. The Blue Jackets took two penalties on the same play, giving the Oilers a five-on-three. After Tyson Barrie’s point shot went wide, Jesse Puljujarvi swatted at the rebound off the back boards to make it 1-0.

“Obviously it’s important for us to score the first goal — that’s important for every team,” Gulutzan said.

“Maybe we can concentrate on the second goal a little bit too, even if we don’t get the first one, let’s make sure we get the next one, because you want to have a stronger mindset than, ‘You need to score first to win.'”

Still on the power play 46 seconds later, Puljujarvi tapped in a feed from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for his tenth goal of the season. Derek Ryan nudged a rebound under Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins to make it 3-0. Brendan Perlini assisted on the play for his first point as an Oiler.

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Perlini then bagged his first goal as an Oiler late in the second, firing in the rebound from Zack Kassian’s shot.

“Obviously (I) was kind of in and out of the lineup and playing some low minutes, so for me, it was: go down (to the AHL) and get playing, feel the puck and play in all situations again,” Perlini said after the game.

“I enjoyed my couple games there and I have a good feeling coming back here with a lot of positivity, and hopefully I can keep it going.”

Read more: Maple Leafs stymie Edmonton Oilers for 5-1 win

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“It just shows that he’s a mature hockey player and a professional,” Derek Ryan said of his linemate Perlini. “He knows the situation he’s in, and I thought he came in here and played a great game. I thought (Kassian) and I have been developing some chemistry over the last couple of games and playing well.”

“It’s nice to have a shooter there,” Ryan said, referring to Perlini’s scoring touch playing on Ryan’s wing.

Joonas Korpisalo replaced Merzlikins in Columbus’ net to start the third.

Gustav Nyquist put Columbus on the board 6:28 into the period. Justin Danforth cut the Oilers’ lead to 4-2 with 3:24 on the clock. Edmonton forward Warren Foegele quickly crushed the Blue Jackets’ dreams of a comeback with an empty-netter.

Puljujarvi had two goals and an assist. The Oilers outshot the Blue Jackets 45-38.

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“I think this is big for us. We need this and to keep building our game,” Puljujarvi said after the game.

“I hope this gives me more confidence to play better every evening and let’s see what happens.”

The Oilers (17-11) will play in Seattle on Saturday.

–With files from Brenden Escott, 630 CHED

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