Blues halt short skid with 4-1 win over Oilers
EDMONTON, Alberta — The St. Louis Blues’ slump, if it can be called that, is over.
After losing back-to-back games for only the second time this season, the Blues took their frustrations out Thursday night, whipping the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 at Rogers Place.
The Blues were a little hot under the collar when they arrived, and it showed. Led by two goals from Brayden Schenn and singles from Vladimir Sobotka and Alex Steen, the Blues turned in a fast, hard-checking effort that the Oilers couldn’t handle.
“We wanted a bounce-back game and that’s when we play our best, when we are involved physically,” said Schenn, who has an incredible 14 points in his last six games. “We weren’t happy with a few hits tonight and it was good to see guys step in and stick up for teammates.
“It was a good team effort. We just stuck with our game and we knew if we did that we would come out on top. We’re at our best when we forecheck and create turnovers. We were able to do that and frustrate them towards the end of the game.”
It was a wake-up call for Edmonton. After a disastrous 3-7-1 start, the Oilers were slowly getting things turned around (4-2-1 in their previous seven games) and saw the Blues as an opportunity to prove how far they’ve come.
Not far enough to keep up with the Blues, as it turns out.
“They’re the top team in our conference and they came out and showed it tonight,” said Oilers goalie Cam Talbot, who kept things from getting out of hand. “We were a step behind all over the ice and they made us pay. We just didn’t manage the puck coming across their blue line. We turned it over a few times and fed their transition. We’ll learn from this one.”
With two teams wanting to focus on defense, there wasn’t a lot of offense in the first period — just two goals — but they came in a hurry.
The Oilers and Blues both scored on the same man-advantage, with Sobotka’s goal coming short-handed after a Cam Talbot giveaway at 15:14 and Ryan Strome undoing the damage 29 seconds later with a rocket under the crossbar.
St. Louis took over the momentum to start the second period, outshooting Edmonton 13-3 in the first 10 minutes. But Talbot more than made up for his first-period gaffe with several huge saves.
The Blues made it 2-1 when Steen had time enough to chop in his own rebound from close range at 7:20 of the second period.
Schenn put the Oilers away for good in the third period, scoring two goals less than two minutes apart.
“We just got back to our game,” said St. Louis coach Mike Yeo. “I had a really good feeling before the game that we were going to come out and we’d have a good start. We were playing a team that was going to give us a good, hard game, and what I liked is that we stayed focused, stayed with it.
“It was a pretty even game but it got to a point where we were able to take it over because we were able to stay with it.”
The Blues, now 14-5-1, certainly look like they’ve sorted out their troubles.
“The last two games, that wasn’t us,” said St. Louis goalie Jake Allen. “From myself, to every single person. Pucks weren’t bouncing for us because we didn’t deserve it. We weren’t playing hard. We were casual. Tonight was a perfectly executed road game, simple and it wasn’t overly pretty.”
It was pretty ugly from an Oilers perspective. The Oilers needed the same kind of hard-working, straightforward effort that St. Louis got, but tried to dipsy-doodle their way to victory instead.
“They were better than us in a lot of areas tonight,” sighed head coach Todd McLellan. “We get to the blue line and they had the tenacity back checking to shut things down. We wanted to play east-west at the blue line and as a result we turned it over and it went the other way.
“They capitalized on some opportunities that we fed them. It wasn’t our best. If we throw our best at them I think we come away with a chance to beat them, but we weren’t close to being our best.”
NOTES: A first-period assist from Oilers C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins gave him 12 points in the last 11 games. ... LW Mike Cammalleri made his debut with the Oilers after being acquired in a trade with Los Angeles on Tuesday. He’s on the third line with Ryan Strome and Iiro Pakarinen. ... Oilers LW Jujhar Khaira, who turned in two solid games after spending six games in the press box as a healthy scratch, is out with an upper-body injury. ... St. Louis LW Magnus Paajarvi is back in the lineup after being scratched Monday in Calgary. ... The Blues came into Edmonton on a four-game losing streak against the Oilers (0-3-1) after winning the previous eight.