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Blues aim for ninth straight win against Oilers

St. Louis focused on sole possession of first place in Central Division

by Derek Van Diest / NHL.com Correspondent

BLUES (41-21-9) at OILERS (27-38-7)

TV: 9:30 p.m. ET; FS-MW, SNOL, NHL.TV

EDMONTON - The St. Louis Blues are looking to rebound against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on Wednesday after a setback at the Calgary Flames on Monday.

The Blues had a six-game win streak end with a 7-4 loss against the Flames in the second of a five-game road trip.

St. Louis is tied with the Dallas Stars for first place in the Central Division.

"We've come from a long ways back to come into a tie for the division lead," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Being first in this division is good, because it's the little advantage that you might need [in playoffs] and we don't want to give up all this ground that we've earned back. We talked about that today. We want to make a good account of ourselves."

The Blues defeated three division rivals, the Minnesota Wild, Chicago Blackhawks and Stars, during their six-game winning streak and Hitchcock understands why there may have been a setback against the Flames.

"We came off a really emotional week, four games of some really hard competition, where every game was decided in the last five minutes," Hitchcock said. "We want to continue to build on that. We had a little bit of a letdown and now we want to try to build it back up."

The Blues have won eight straight against the Oilers and 13 of the past 14 (13-1-0). They won the past two games against Edmonton this season.

Like any young team, the Oilers have lots of guys that are trying to prove that they want to stay here and they're going to be hard, just like Calgary was," Hitchcock said. "These are hard games. Edmonton played very well against Nashville [a 3-2 loss against the Nashville Predators on Monday] and I expect the same tonight. We just have to get our game back in order."
 

Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse will return after serving a three-game suspension for being the aggressor in a fight with San Jose Sharks defenseman Roman Polak on March. 8.

The Oilers have lost three straight and eight of their past 10 (2-7-1) at home. 

"I'm looking forward to getting back out there and getting into a game," Nurse said. "Obviously, you have to be smart with your actions and I definitely could have been smarter in that situation, but it's over, it's time to play again and I'm looking forward to getting back out there."

Nurse, 21, was selected No. 7 by the Oilers in the 2013 NHL Draft. In his first year, he has developed into one of the Oilers' most reliable defensemen.

"I think he's learned a lesson and he understands, perhaps, the rules a little bit better," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "He's such a good player that we can't afford to have him suspended for long-term periods throughout his career. We have to keep him playing and we have to keep him developing."

Goaltender Cam Talbot will start for the Oilers after backing up rookie Laurent Brossoit against the Predators. Goaltender Jake Allen will start for the Blues.

Here are the projected lineups:

BLUES

Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Robby Fabbri - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer

Magnus Paajarvi - Patrik Berglund - David Backes

Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Robert Bortuzzo - Kevin Shattenkirk

Joel Edmundson - Colton Parayko

Jake Allen

Anders Nilsson

Injured: Alexander Steen (upper body), Brian Elliott (lower body), Steve Ott (hamstring), Carl Gunnarsson (lower body).

Scratched: Dmitrij Jaskin

OILERS

Patrick Maroon - Connor McDavid - Jordan Eberle

Taylor Hall - Leon Draisaitl - Iiro Pakarinen

Lauri Korpikoski - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Nail Yakupov

Matt Hendricks - Mark Letestu - Zack Kassian  

Andrej Sekera - Mark Fayne

Griffin Reinhart - Adam Clendening

Darnell Nurse - Jordan Oesterle  

Cam Talbot

Laurent Brossoit

Injured: Oscar Klefbom (foot), Andrew Ference (hip), Brandon Davidson (knee), Benoit Pouliot (shoulder), Eric Gryba (knee), Adam Pardy (undisclosed).

Scratched: Luke Gazdic, Anton Lander, Adam Cracknell, Nikita Nikitin

Status report: Gunnarsson was injured blocking a shot in Calgary and will not play against the Oilers. Bortuzzo, a healthy scratch in the past seven games, will take his place in the lineup. … Nugent-Hopkins is playing his third game after missing 23 games with a hand injury. … Nurse will replace Nikitin in the Oilers' lineup.

Who's hot: Brouwer has two goals and two assists in his past four games. … Stastny has a four-game point streak with three goals and four assists. … McDavid has one goal and one assist in his past three games.

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