EDMONTON — It quickly became apparent which team was still fighting for a playoff position and which was already out of the race.
"We were down 3-0, but it didn’t feel like it because it was just a couple of dumb mistakes that cost us," Vanek said. "We felt fine about our game going into the game and even being down 3-0 we felt OK. We showed a lot of character and it was a big two points again."
Artemi Panarin, Boone Jenner, Cam Atkinson and Markus Nutivaara also scored for the Blue Jackets (43-29-5), who have won 11 of their past 12 games.
"Even though we were down 3-0, we just kept pushing and at the end of the day we played a really good game, I think," said Columbus forward Alexander Wennberg, who ended the night with a plus-six rating. "It was huge to tie it before the end of the first period and then we could start again and not think about those three goals. We just tried to play the same way and kept fighting and it was a really good performance."
Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Drake Caggiula also scored for the Oilers (34-37-6), who have lost two straight.
"It was awful, horrible," McDavid said of his team’s collapse. "We had the good start (tonight) and then the game just went right back to where we were at during the start of the year. It’s disappointing as we had been pretty good of late."
Edmonton got on the board 3:37 into the first period when a mix-up behind the net between Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and Nutivaara allowed McDavid to steal the puck and send it out front to Nugent-Hopkins, who scored his 22nd of the season. McDavid picked up his 100th point, tying his league-leading total from last year.
Bobrovsky made 22 saves for the win.
There was a scary incident shortly afterwards when Columbus defenceman Zach Werenski collided with McDavid and he went flying into linesman Steve Barton, who hit his head badly on the ice and was taken off on a stretcher. It was later reported that Barton was doing well.
McDavid continued to be the early story six minutes into the first period as he scored a short-handed goal on with a backhand shot for his career-high 40th goal of the season. He’s the first Oilers player to hit that mark since Petr Klima did it back in 1991.
Edmonton made it 3-0 on the power play midway through the first when Caggiula blasted a puck top corner past Bobrovsky.
Columbus came roaring back with a pair of goals within a minute, as a Vanek shot caromed off an Oilers defender and past Edmonton goalie Cam Talbot and then Panarin scored his 26th of the season on a rebound.
The fireworks continued with three minutes left as Vanek tipped in his 23rd of the season off a shot by David Savard.
The Jackets took the lead early in the second frame when Jenner batted in a puck out of mid-air.
Columbus made it 5-3 six minutes into the second as Atkinson tucked a shot under Talbot’s arm, prompting the Oilers to replace him in net with Laurent Brossoit after allowing five goals on 18 shots.
Brossoit stopped 7-of-9 shots.
Vanek completed his hat trick on a shot from the slot with five minutes left in the second.
The Jackets scored their seventh consecutive goal eight minutes into the third, a tally by Nutivaara.
Both teams return to action on Thursday, with the Blue Jackets heading to Calgary to face the Flames and the Oilers hitting the road to play the Canucks in Vancouver.