Jumpin' Jackets!

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 1:01 PM ET

COLUMBUS -- When everyone is afraid you're going to fall off the face of the earth, it's probably fitting you set sail for a town named after Christopher Columbus.

It was here, last night, that the Edmonton Oilers discovered a strange new world.

The other team's end.

After their worst game of the season, a 3-0, zero shots in the first period loss in Detroit, the Oilers bailed out their sinking ship with a desperately needed 4-1 decision over the Blue Jackets.

"That might have been the best game we played tactically all year," said head coach Craig MacTavish. "We got a lesson on how to play the game in Detroit, obviously. It was a pretty good night, when they needed it most.

"We needed a really good game," said MacTavish. "If we had another poor team game it would have been a considerable blow. But it was a pretty good effort right from the start."

It stopped the bleeding of their four-game losing streak (and one win in their last seven) while, amazingly, lifting the 8-7-1 Oilers into a tie for seventh in the Western Conference standings.

What a difference a day makes.

"We knew we needed a good effort tonight," said Brad Winchester, who had an assist to go with another strong performance. "We played a good, hard road game. It was very big to come out of here with two points."

They got them, in large part, because they tightened up defensively, got big saves from Dwayne Roloson and the skill players who'd been so invisible during the slump finally showed up.

"It felt good to do something," said Joffrey Lupul, who was given the team's Ugly Jacket after getting up off the canvas after a loss in a first period scrap with Norway's Ole-Kristian Tollefsen to score his first goal since Oct. 28.

"It's been a couple of games since anything happened for me offensively. I was just trying to play physical on this road trip. That usually leads to something good. To get a goal was a good feeling; this was a huge game for us. It couldn't have come at a better time."

Ales Hemsky, chided by his coach for too many defensive zone giveaways, broke the doughnut 40 seconds into the second period and Jacket killer Ryan Smyth scored second- and third-period goals - his ninth and team-leading 10th of the season.

"I don't know if it's a mental thing or what, but I've had some good success against them," said Smyth, who now has 24 points in 20 career games against the Jackets.

LATE HITS ... Both teams' Norwegians got into scraps last night, with Edmonton's Patrick Thoresen going after Alexander Svitov when the 6-3, 211-pounder ran Ladislav Smid from behind in the second period. "Pretty impressive," said MacTavish. "He saw his countryman get in a scrap and wanted to be known as the toughest player in Norway."... Anson Carter's goal was the 1,000th in Jackets history ... The Oilers broke seven sticks in the game last night. "They're $150 apiece," said equipment manager Barrie Stafford. "It's scary."


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