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Blues try to bounce back vs. Oilers

by Mike Battaglino

OILERS (8-7-4) at BLUES (10-7-2)

TV: RDS2, SNET-West, FS-Midwest

Last 10: Edmonton 4-4-2; St. Louis 4-4-2

Season series: This is the first of three meetings to be contested over the next 26 days. The Blues won the final three of four meetings last season, winning two by one goal, and are 9-2-1 against the Oilers over the past three seasons.

Big story: Each team played Thursday. The Blues lost for the third time in four games -- 3-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks; they have scored 1, 0 and 0 in the defeats, 2 in the win. After earning a point against the Blackhawks in a 3-2 overtime loss Monday, the Oilers won the second game of their nine-game road trip, 5-1 in Dallas. Edmonton can tie St. Louis in points with a regulation win; the teams were 45 points apart in the Western Conference at the end of last season.

Team Scope:

Oilers: Edmonton has five of a possible six points in its past three games after getting seven points in the 10 games prior.

"Especially now on this long road trip, we need to get as many points as we can, and obviously these kind of wins are huge for our team," forward Lennart Petrell said Thursday.

Five different players scored against Dallas.

"We had a good energy out of the Chicago game and we were able to regenerate here for a couple of days," coach Ralph Krueger said.

The Oilers will remain on the road until a week from Tuesday -- March 12.

"I think we're playing solid," Sam Gagner said. "The biggest thing for us is to continue with those same habits. You're not going to get the results every single night but if you worry about the process, and worry about having the right habits, over time, I think with our skill, things are going to go our way. ...

"I feel like throughout this trip so far, we've done that, and we've got a lot left here, and we've just got to make sure every night we come with that same effort, same consistency and hopefully get on a roll here."

Blues: After going 6-1-0 in a short January schedule, St. Louis managed four wins in 12 February games, with a 1-5-1 record at home.

"Our fans deserve better, and I think everyone here knows that we've got more, and it needs to come out right away," captain David Backes said.

Chicago's Jonathan Toews scored 12 seconds into Thursday's game.

"Lessons are going to be learned and we're going to have to be better tomorrow night," said Backes, whose line was on ice for that opening shift.

St. Louis had nine giveaways to Chicago's one.

"I thought we had some good players today, but we also had some guys who struggled a little bit to keep up," coach Ken Hitchcock said.

The Blues played Thursday without their entire forward line of Andy McDonald, Alex Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko, all sidelined by injury. Those key power-play participants were missed as the Blues finished a fifth straight game without a PP goal after getting at least one in eight straight.

"We're not going to use injuries as an excuse; eveyone's got them this time of year," Backes said. "We've just got to push through and make sure that we're finding ways to have success rather than finding things to use as excuses and rest on.

"We've got another one tomorrow that we've got to turn around quick, and play a high-tempo offensive team in Edmonton."

Jaroslav Halak will start in goal; Brian Elliot will get back into the net Sunday at Dallas.

Who's hot: Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz has five points in his past five games, and his 12 points are tied for third among NHL rookies. Gagner has seven points in his past six games; forward Ales Hemsky had three points Thursday. … Halak has stopped 58 of 63 shots (.920) in three games since returning from injury.

Injury report: Oilers defenseman Cory Potter (head) was injured in Thursday's game and his status will be determined Friday. Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (groin) was placed on injured reserve this week. Forward Teemu Hartikainen (shoulder) is day-to-day. Forward Shawn Horcoff (hand) is week-to-week, forward Anton Lander (foot) is three weeks into a four-week recovery, and defenseman Andy Sutton (knee) is out indefinitely. … Steen (upper body) practiced briefly Thursday and could return Friday or Saturday. McDonald (left leg) is out on a week-to-week basis. Tarasenko's return from a concussion is unknown.

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