Tarasenko does it all in Blues’ rout of Oilers
ST. LOUIS — The loudest cheers inside Scottrade Center on Tuesday night were for the St. Louis Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko, but this time the ovation had nothing to do with him scoring a goal.
Tarasenko came to the defense of teammate Brayden Schenn in the second period, getting into a fight with Edmonton’s Matt Benning, which earned him the loud ovation.
The fight completed the second “Gordie Howe hat trick” of Tarasenko’s career as he also scored two goals and assisted on two more to lead the Blues to an 8-3 rout of the Oilers.
Schenn, who also had two goals and two assists in extending his career-high point streak to eight games, was clipped by Benning before Tarasenko responded, landing a couple of good hits on Benning.
“I don’t fight very often, but I think it was on purpose,” Tarasenko said of the hit on Schenn. “Emotions, too, it just happens sometimes. It’s part of the game, and I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong with it. ... When you stick up for each other, it’s harder to play against us.”
It was only the third fight of Tarasenko’s career, and the second time in in a game in which he also earned a goal and an assist. The other came on Nov. 13, 2014.
Even though Tarasenko thought the hit was intentional, Schenn said he made a mistake that led to the play.
“That was my fault, coming through the middle with my head down, and maybe I’m lucky it wasn’t a bigger defenseman trying to hit me there,” Schenn said. “Hats off to (Tarasenko). We don’t need that guy fighting, but he decided to drop the mitts, and you look at that from a team perspective and a guy’s willing to stick up for one another and that goes a long way.
“When you see your best player doing that, it makes everybody want to do that.”
Blues coach Mike Yeo was glad for two things — that Tarasenko came to his teammate’s defense, and also that the winger did not get hurt.
“Obviously we don’t want Vladi getting into fights but he certainly sent a message to his teammates that he’s got their back there,” Yeo said.
When he wasn’t fighting, Tarasenko was doing what he normally does — leading the Blues’ offense. The two goals were his 11th and 12th of the season, and along with linemates Schenn and Jaden Schwartz, he contributed to a 12-point night for the trio.
Schwartz also had four points, scoring one goal and contributing three assists. The goal was his 11th of the season and 100th of his career.
The Blues chased Edmonton goalie Cam Talbot just 7:35 into the game, scoring on two of their first three shots, by Tarasenko and Dmitrij Jaskin.
Scottie Upshall and Paul Stastny also scored for the Blues, who won their third game in a row and improved their Western Conference-leading record to 16-5-1. The eight goals were the most by the Blues since they scored 10 at Detroit on March 30, 2011.
It was the second win by the Blues in six days over the Oilers, having won 4-1 last Thursday night in Edmonton.
“Two games in a row getting dominated by that first line,” Oilers winger Milan Lucic said. “I would say one of the top three lines in the league right now, and we don’t do a good enough job checking them. They made us pay for it.”
The loss was the third in a row for the Oilers, who got all of their goals in the third period, from Lucic, Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse.
“In every facet of the game, we were second, it wasn’t even close,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. “Very, very concerned obviously the way some individuals played tonight. Many of them, and it’s indefensible on my behalf and we’re responsible for having the team ready, and obviously they weren’t.
“Let’s not kid ourselves — they were quicker to the puck, they executed better, they had us standing around and watching. ... That’s as about as poor as I’ve seen our group of (defensemen) play in my three years here.”
St. Louis goalie Jake Allen made 26 saves. Laurent Brossoit stopped 31 of 37 shots in relief of Talbot.
NOTES: D Jay Bouwmeester made his season debut for the Blues after missing the first 21 games because of a broken ankle sustained early in training camp. He replaced D Carl Gunnarsson. ... The Oilers placed D Ziyat Paigin on unconditional waivers on Tuesday. He was playing for Bakersfield in the AHL. ... The game was the second on a five-game trip for the Oilers, who play Wednesday night in Detroit. ... The Blues host the Nashville Predators on Friday night.