Blues top Oilers 5-2 to grab top spot in Central
Thursday, 03.01.2012 / 1:02 AM
The St. Louis Blues
are doing their best to prove they're a full member of the NHL's elite.
The Blues moved past Detroit into first place in the Central Division with a 5-2 win in Edmonton on Wednesday night. Andy McDonald
scored twice and Kevin Shattenkirk
had a goal and two assists to give the Blues 87 points in 64 games -- the Wings have the same total but St. Louis owns one more non-shootout win.
St. Louis (40-17-7) improved to 4-0-0 on a road trip that takes the Blues to Vancouver on Thursday -- and a regulation win will move them past the Canucks into the top spot in the overall standings.
"We have four wins on the road on this trip already which is pretty good," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said after his team's 10th win in 13 games. "We're in the bonus round. We play our best hockey when we are a bit scared and I think we will be a little bit for that game."
scored in the second period and Chris Stewart
connected on a third-period penalty shot to back a 22-save performance by Jaroslav Halak
, who joined teammate Brian Elliott
as a 20-game winner. It's the first time in franchise history the Blues have had two goalies win 20 games in the same season.
The road winning streak is their longest since February 2009.
"You have to be able to win on the road to be successful," McDonald said after the Blues improved to 14-13-3 in away games -- they're a dominating 26-4-4 at Scottrade Center. "We know it is going to be tough every night and that we have to play a certain way, and on this road trip especially we have stuck to that style.
"It's really paid off for us. Things are going well for us."
The Oilers trailed 3-0 in the second period after McDonald's second goal, but after Yann Danis
replaced Devan Dubnyk
in goal, Edmonton (25-32-6) rallied on goals by Corey Potter
and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
to make it a one-goal game entering the third period.
That wasn't enough against a team that makes as few mistakes as the Blues.
"They're a team that played the game the right way," Oilers coach Tom Renney said. "One thing they won't do is beat themselves, much like we did."
The Blues took advantage of an early mistake to get on the board just 59 seconds into the game. Defenseman Cam Barker
got caught pinching, allowing McDonald to race down the right side and beat Dubnyk for a quick lead.
Halak kept it a 1-0 game by denying Taylor Hall
's partial breakaway with eight minutes left in the period.
The Blues went up 2-0 at 2:05 of the second period when Nichol raced into the right circle unimpeded and picked the far low corner, just inside the post. Dubnyk's evening ended at 7:34 after a bad line change let T.J. Oshie
feed an onrushing McDonald, who deked and scored his second of the game.
"We stood around and watched St Louis play a little bit, showed them a little too much respect," Renney said.
Danis' entrance appeared to rejuvenate the Oilers. Just over a minute later, Potter stepped into a slapper from the right point and beat a screened Halak to make it 3-1. The Oilers were able to kill a five-minute boarding major to Ryan Smyth
and made it 3-2 with 48 seconds left in the period when Hall outraced the defense to a dump-in and slid a pass to Nugent-Hopkins, who banged it inside the right post for his 15th goal to make it 3-2.
But the Blues regrouped at intermission.
"We had a little meeting after the second period and were able to come back and take it over again," Hitchcock said. "We are still a young team that can learn some lessons. The way we played except for five minutes in the second period was terrific and the way we played in the third was excellent.
"We put the foot on the gas again in the third period."
Danis did not face a shot in the more than 12 minutes he was in net in the second period. But the Blues beat him at 3:28 of the third when Shattenkirk deflected home a perfect pass by Alex Pietrangelo
for a 4-2 lead. Stewart scored his 14th of the season when he beat Danis on a penalty shot at 7:34 after he was hooked by Hall on a breakaway.
"There were stretches where we played really well, we had a great kill on the (Ryan Smyth
) major and it was 3-2," defenseman Ryan Whitney
said. "But when you play a team that good you have to play 60 minutes.”
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report