Jackets get buttoned

Edmonton Oilers' Jarret Stoll (left) clips the knee of Columbus Blue Jackets' Ole-Kristian...

Edmonton Oilers' Jarret Stoll (left) clips the knee of Columbus Blue Jackets' Ole-Kristian Tollefsen during first period action at Rexall Place in Edmonton on Thursday. (Edmonton Sun/Jason Franson)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

Maybe the tide is starting to turn for the Edmonton Oilers.

Facing the most critical month of their season, the Oilers roll into February with a couple of nasty streaks gone - and some needed momentum in tow.

With a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Rexall Place last night, Edmonton is now four points from the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

But nearly as important for Petr Sykora and Raffi Torres, their ugly goal-scoring droughts have disappeared.

Scoring for the first time in seven games, Sykora notched the game-winning goal last night, while Torres ended an 11-game slide with a pair of markers.

"It is obviously a monkey off (my) back," said a very relieved Torres.

"I hadn't really been helping these guys out too much this year offensively.

"It definitely feels good to finally help out."

Staring at nine road games this month - including a pivotal tilt in Vancouver tonight - the Oilers need confidence to spread through the dressing room like wild fire.

"Hopefully this will really spur Raffi's confidence and he can keep this going and get hot, because he could really help us in that respect.

"We need some guys to heat up other than Ryan (Smyth) and Ales (Hemsky)."

And while nobody will ever suggest Columbus and the Los Angeles Kings - with just 15 away wins between them this season - are road warriors, back-to-back wins have pumped some much-need life into the playoff race, as the club is now tied with Colorado for ninth spot.

Billed as an unlikely showdown between goaltenders Jussi Markkanen and Ty Conklin last night, it was Ryan Smyth who quickly grabbed the spotlight by batting in the first goal for his fifth point in two games.

The score could have easily been 3-0 after the first period, as Edmonton pounded 16 shots at Conklin.

But Torres had an easy tap-in goal just 22 seconds into the second, setting the stage for his breakout game - although he did get a gutsy assist from Jarret Stoll on his second goal.

Columbus defenceman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen almost ran Stoll through the end boards, but Stoll still managed to put the puck right on Torres stick for another tap-in early in the third period.

PLAYING FEARLESS

"He has been playing fearless all year long," said Torres on his linemate.

"Without that play it is only a one-goal night."

Added MacTavish: "That was a great play by Jarret, and as I said earlier, that line has been as consistent a line as we have had. And it was nice to get some balance in the scoring."

FINISH LINES: MacTavish has decided on his starting goalie for tonight in Vancouver, but he's not tipping his hand ... With the win, Edmonton is 9-2-1 all-time versus Columbus at home.


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