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Blues return home to host Oilers

by Matthew Mankiewich
OILERS (23-40-10) at BLUES (32-32-9)


Last 10 -- Edmonton 3-5-2, St. Louis 4-6-0

Season series -- The Blues have won the last two, scoring five times in each, but the Oilers still have a chance to split the four-game set.

Big story -- With playoff prospects basically done for both teams and the Oilers gutted by injuries, now has been a good time to get the top prospects some NHL ice time. Unfortunately for the Oilers, that's meant negligible offensive production, to the tune of seven goals in seven games -- all losses. Things haven't been particularly rosy for the Blues either, as they return home after having dropped three straight on the road.

Team scope

Oilers -- It's not for lack of trying. The Oilers had scored seven goals on Pekka Rinne in the three previous times they faced him this season, but with Taylor Hall (ankle), Sam Gagner (cut tendons in hand), Shawn Horcoff (ankle) and Ales Hemsky (shoulder surgery) all out, there weren't many people left to put the puck in the net. Coupled with the Oilers' traditionally slow starts, the result was a big two points for the Predators in a 3-1 win -- and more frustration for the Oilers.

"I don't think anybody in here is going to tell you it's easy. It's not. It's frustrating," said goaltender Devan Dubnyk in the Edmonton Journal. "It's more frustrating when we show we can go play. It doesn't matter how depleted you are, if you stick to a system, and you play it hard, which is what Tom and the coaches have been preaching, you have a chance. That's more than anything, what we have to do. We show we can do it then we get away from it. That's what's frustrating."

Blues -- Four games in a row against playoff contenders have resulted in a win and three losses. The Blues got a good jump on fourth-seeded Phoenix, but the Coyotes picked up a pair of second-period goals and made off with a 2-1 win, leaving the Blues 1-3-0 on their four-game road trip.

"I thought we played solid from start to finish," Blues coach Davis Payne said in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Against a good team, the game is going to go back and forth, it's going to be tight scoring chances, it's going to be saves, a bounce here or there is going to make the difference in a hockey game, and that's what happened."

Who's hot -- Jordan Eberle scored the Oilers' lone goal Tuesday, putting him four points behind Horcoff, Hemsky and Hall (all of whom are injured) for the team lead. … Blues forward Matt D'Agostini had his five-game point streak (4 goals, 5 assists) end on Tuesday while switching from the first to the second line.

Injury report -- The Oilers got another scare in the Nashville game as Eberle was hit in the foot with a puck. He completed the game but left the arena with a walking boot. However, he is expected to be ready for Thursday. Defenseman Kurtis Foster took a nasty hit from David Legwand and was not able to skate on the off-day but says he is improving. Winger JF Jacques (foot) is still day-to-day while Colin Fraser (foot) is still at least a week away, as is Horcoff (ankle). Hall (ankle) is out indefinitely as is Gilbert Brule, who is recovering from a concussion. … Blues forward Patrick Berglund left the Phoenix game with a lower-body injury and is day-to-day. Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo (food poisoning) was a late scratch Tuesday and is likewise. Forward Alex Steen (high ankle sprain), defenseman Barrett Jackman (right index finger) and David Perron (concussion) are done for the season. Forward Vladimir Sobotka (broken bone in left foot) has resumed skating a little ahead of schedule after being projected to miss four weeks.

Stat pack -- The Blues have fielded three different goalies against Edmonton this season. Ben Bishop and Ty Conklin both have wins, Jaroslav Halak the lone loss. Dubnyk has both losses for the Oilers, allowing five goals in each outing. Steen leads both teams with three goals in three games. The series has gone back and forth in recent years, the Oilers sweeping in 2008-09 and the Blues three of four in 2009-10.

Puck drop -- "As an organization, in terms of how we call people up and who we might call up to help continue to grow this thing and provide opportunity at the same time. To educate ourselves on what we've got." -- Renney in the Sporting News on how he and the Oilers' front office will deal with mounting injuries as the season winds down.

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