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Blues still alive after edging Oilers

by Brian Hunter
St. Louis Blues coach Davis Payne promised his team would try to keep "winning until the games run out."

Veteran forward Keith Tkachuk helped the team live up to its coach's words Sunday and remain mathematically alive in the Western Conference playoff race for another day.

Tkachuk scored his first goal in 15 games at 7:36 of the third period and Chris Mason finished with 23 saves as the Blues edged the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 at Scottrade Center.

"It's a big win at home. We're still alive, and you get on the board, finally," said Tkachuk, who was celebrating his 38th birthday. "It seems like a long time, so it's nice to contribute."

Erik Johnson had a power-play goal for St. Louis, which sits 10th in the West, eight points behind Colorado with only seven games left in the regular season.

Patrick O'Sullivan scored unassisted in the first period to open the scoring for Edmonton, which will finish last in the overall League standings and needs six points over its final seven games to avoid the worst season in franchise history.

"That has been our problem -- handling the front of the net and the corners and helping our goaltending out," Oilers coach Pat Quinn said. "We haven't done as good a job as we need to do there, and tonight is the night it cost us an opportunity to win."

Tkachuk, who has 54 points in 63 career games against the Oilers, registered his 13th goal of the season when he redirected a Brad Winchester shot while positioned in front of the crease of goalie Devan Dubnyk. The play originated on a shot by Alex Steen.

"It was a great shot and a great high screen by Winchester and a great shot by Steen," Tkachuk said. "It was a critical part of the game. You've got to teach these young guys how to go to the tough areas to score goals."

"I couldn't see anything," Dubnyk said. "There were two of their guys in front and I had a view of the guy with the puck at the point. They both just kind of moved in the way, and I just tried to go down to were I thought the puck was going to go and I still don't know where it went."

Johnson drew the Blues even in the game during one of their three second-period power plays. The defenseman picked up his eighth goal -- after missing the entire 2008-09 season with a knee injury -- after taking a feed from T.J. Oshie and putting a slap shot past Dubnyk at the 10:43 mark.

"We were terrible after the first period. Coach Payne came in and let us hear it that we really needed to step up our game," Johnson said. "We came out better in the second and closed it out in the third. We were very much improved from the first period. We got a good wake-up call from him."

O'Sullivan took advantage of a Barret Jackman turnover and put a shot between the pads of Mason with 10:22 elapsed in the first.

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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