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Blues defeat Oilers, spoil McDavid's home debut

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- The St. Louis Blues' dominance against the Edmonton Oilers continued Thursday, spoiling the home debut of center Connor McDavid and the final opener at Rexall Place.

Jori Lehtera, Vladimir Tarasenko, Paul Stastny and Alexander Steen scored for the Blues (3-1-0) in a 4-2 victory against the Oilers (0-4-0), giving St. Louis its eighth consecutive win against Edmonton and second in a week.

The Oilers have not won against the Blues since March 26, 2013, and their last win on home ice in the series came on Oct. 30, 2011. St. Louis is 19-2-1 against Edmonton in the past 22 games.

"The game in the first period was up for grabs," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Edmonton was probably a bit more energized, but halfway through the second period, we started to get on the grind and took it over. We did a good job at the end of the second period and a great job the whole third period. They got a little bit of powder off a couple of power plays, but 5-on-5, we really got after them and hemmed them in, in the third."

Lauri Korpikoski and Taylor Hall scored for the Oilers, who will be looking for their first win under new coach Todd McLellan at the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

Blues goaltender Brian Elliott made 24 saves for his third win of the season. Oilers goalie Cam Talbot made 25 saves in his third loss.

"We have a little bit of a roller-coaster thing going on right now where we get a little bit of momentum, and then the other team will come back and score, and we sag a bit," McLellan said. "Emotionally, we are up and down quite a bit, and that comes from not winning. When frustration creeps in, then you get away from what you are supposed to be doing."

Korpikoski opened the scoring for the Oilers at 1:36 of the first period, beating Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson to a puck off the end boards and sweeping it past Elliott on the Oilers' first shot.

Lehtera tied the game at 3:14, placing a rebound past Talbot on the Blues' second shot.

The Oilers came close to taking the lead midway through the first when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins found space down the right wing. His shot, however, was kicked away by Elliott. From there, St. Louis was able to neutralize Edmonton's speed by keeping possession of the puck.

"It's hard to have speed if you're stuck in your own zone," Hitchcock said. "We stuck them in their own zone for the last 30 minutes. It's hard to get speed if you're stuck in your own zone, so we did a great job with it."

Tarasenko gave the Blues the lead 16:01 into the second period, taking a quick shot from the top of the left faceoff circle off a draw in the Oilers zone.

St. Louis extended its lead to 3-1 at 4:20 of the third period when Stastny converted a centering pass from Steen on the power play.

Hall pulled Edmonton to within a goal at 6:37, getting to the puck off a faceoff in the St. Louis end, sliding the puck through the legs of defenseman Colton Parayko, and lifting it over Elliott.

"There is still 78 more games, but every one you lose, especially in this division and this conference, makes it that much harder throughout the year," Hall said. "We were in that game and hung around, but that's just not enough anymore. Three years ago, I would have taken a moral victory out of that, but we have had way too many of those."

Steen scored with 2:09 left in the third, converting a pass from Brouwer off a scramble in front to give St. Louis a 4-2 lead.

McDavid was held without a point and was minus-3 in 20:17 of ice time.

"Against a heavy, strong, well-prepared team, I saw him skating through the neutral zone with a little more pace and speed and creating some opportunities," McLellan said. "Unfortunately for us, that line was on the ice for some goals against."

St. Louis will play the fourth of its season-high six-game road trip at the Vancouver Canucks on Friday before visiting the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday and Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

After visiting the Flames, the Oilers will play at the Canucks on Sunday.

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