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Blues-Oilers Preview @NHL

Ryan Smyth has earned a reputation as one of the NHL's toughest players during his 12-year career. His latest performance is further proof.

One game after hobbling off the ice, Smyth is expected to play Thursday when the Oilers open a season-high seven-game homestand against the St. Louis Blues.

Smyth scored on the power play and short-handed less than two minutes apart in the second period as Edmonton (9-8-1) closed a five-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over Colorado on Monday.

"Unbelievable," Oilers center Shawn Horcoff said. "If there is a guy that can score goals that way it is Smitty."

With 28 seconds left in the game, Smyth gingerly skated off the ice after being kneed in the leg by Colorado's John-Michael Liles as he tried to skate past the Avs defenseman on a breakaway along the boards.

Originally diagnosed with a charley horse, Smyth's status for Thursday was uncertain, but he practiced on Wednesday and should be ready to play against the Blues.

"He's tender, but he's going to be all right," Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe said.

Having Smyth on the ice is a huge plus for Edmonton, which has won two of three following a four-game skid. Smyth scored four goals on the trip, two each in wins over Columbus and Colorado. He leads the Oilers with 12 goals, including the team's only short-handed tally, and is second with 17 points.

Smyth will try to help the Oilers return to their winning ways at home, where they've lost two straight since opening the season 6-0.

Backup Jussi Markkanen was in net for Edmonton's 5-3 loss at St. Louis on Sunday, so Dwayne Roloson likely will get a chance to win his third straight start on Thursday.

Roloson has turned away 59 of 61 shots in his last two games overall, and has been just as good against the Blues lately. He is 2-1 with a tie, .967 save percentage and two shutouts in his last four starts against St. Louis.

The Blues (5-9-3) lost for the fourth time in five games Tuesday, 3-0 to Calgary in the opener of a season-high five-game trip.

"It was a bad loss for us," Blues forward Bill Guerin said. "The veteran players need to step up and perform better and we didn't do that tonight."

Center Doug Weight has gone five straight games without a point since recording four assists in a 4-1 victory over Colorado on Nov. 2. He has no goals in 17 contests this season.

Of the utmost concern for struggling St. Louis is the condition of goaltender Curtis Sanford, who left Tuesday's game in the first period with a mild groin strain. Sanford, making a third consecutive start for the first time this season, has allowed six goals in his past four appearances.

"It's nothing big," he said. "I don't intend on missing a lot of time over it. I think we just erred on the side of caution."

If Sanford is unable to play Thursday, Manny Legace would start for the first time since Nov. 9.

St. Louis' power play has failed to convert on 17 straight opportunities.

The Blues have won four straight against the Oilers, and are 10-3 with three ties in the past 16 meetings.

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