VANCOUVER, CANADA - MARCH 14: Gilbert Brule #8 of the Phoenix Coyotes celebrates after scoring a goalie as Chris Higgins #20 of the Vancouver Canucks and Kevin Bieksa #3 skates by during the second period in NHL action on March 14, 2012 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
The Edmonton Oilers and the Phoenix Coyotes each picked up wins on Wednesday night, a shutout victory for the former and a high-scoring, one-goal difference for the latter.
The Edmonton Oilers and the Columbus Blue Jackets took the ice at Rexall Place in a contest between the two worst teams in the NHL. The Blue Jackets showed exactly why there are the only team in the league mathematically eliminated from the playoffs so far, falling in a 3-0 contest. Rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins opened the scoring in the second period and later saw Taylor Hall and Linus Omark complete the scoring with goals of their own.
After the game, Hall said (via the Edmonton Journal):
"We can show we’re a lot better than our record suggests. We want to show we do have some drive in this locker-room," said Hall, who wasn’t in the lineup last season when the Oilers stumbled to the finish line in 30th place.
The Oilers are still 29th in points with 61, but that's a 10-point lead over the Blue Jackets.
The Phoenix Coyotes were able to fend off the Vancouver Canucks on the road, picking up the 5-4 victory. The Canucks lost a 2-0 lead in the first period and entered the third period down by one goal, 4-3. Antoine Vermette scored at 1:38 in the period for the Coyotes, giving the team enough breathing space. Dan Hamhuis brought it to a one-goal game 11 minutes later, but that was it. There were no last-minute heroics.
The Vancouver Sun wonders if Vancouver has hit the bottom of its season right now:
That's four losses in their last five games -- and six defeats in their last eight -- for the struggling Canucks.
Can a team with the second-best record in the West be at rock bottom?
The Canucks, though, still have a decent hold on the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference Playoffs. They are at 92 points and lead the Dallas Stars by nine points.
The Dallas Stars lost a bit of their handle on the Pacific Division -- although they stil remain in first place -- with a 5-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. The Stars sit two points up on the Phoenix Coyotes in the division race.
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