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Oilers 2, Blues 1, SO @NHLdotcom

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -The Edmonton Oilers knew they had a good chance to beat the St. Louis Blues in a shootout. The problem was actually getting that far.

Ales Kotalik scored the shootout winner, and the Oilers improved their playoff chances with a 2-1 victory over the hard-charging Blues on Tuesday night.

Sheldon Souray also scored for the Oilers, who ended a skid of three consecutive overtime losses and moved into a tie with the Nashville Predators for seventh place in the Western Conference with 75 points.

"We got the game into the shootout, which wasn't something we had been able to do in the last few games we have played," Souray said. "To get one more point than they got is huge for us at this point."

Kotalik, acquired in a trade-deadline deal with Buffalo, partly for his shootout success, tied Atlanta's Slava Kozlov for the NHL record with 10 shootout winners.

"Those situations are crucial right now at this point of the season," he said. "To be able to contribute this way to help the guys get a huge two points felt pretty good. I'm thrilled and happy for all the guys on this team to get a win after putting so much effort into this game."

Oilers coach Craig MacTavish considered this effort one of the best in recent memory.

"It was a much better game by our team," he said. "It was our best game in quite some time. We started well and had good energy, which hasn't always been the case of late."

David Backes had the lone goal for the Blues, who have lost two of three after winning seven of 10 to get back into postseason contention. The Blues are three points behind the Oilers and Predators.

"We're scratching and clawing and fighting for every point that we're getting," Blues goalie Chris Mason said. "We fought for our point tonight. We would have liked to have had two, but we'll take the one and move on. We've got a couple of tough games against Vancouver and Calgary coming up."

St. Louis coach Andy Murray said it is important for the Blues to focus on their recent surge.

"I asked the guys after the game where we were on Jan. 1 and what did the picture look like for us this year in terms of pursuing a Stanley Cup, and the picture didn't look too good," he said. "But we have scratched and clawed and battled our way back into this picture. We're going one game at a time."

The Oilers nearly fell behind eight minutes in as goalie Dwayne Roloson came out near the blue line in pursuit of the puck, but gave it away. Edmonton escaped danger when the Blues failed to get a shot on the empty net.

Edmonton took a 1-0 lead just over 10 minutes in during a power play. Souray unleashed a slap shot from the point to beat Mason for his 20th goal.

The Blues tied it 2 minutes into the second on a power play as Backes took a pass at the side of the net, cut in front, and put the puck behind Roloson.

The Oilers had the best chance of the scoreless third period with 55 seconds left. Mason robbed Andrew Cogliano with a quick glove-hand save in tight to send the game into overtime.

Notes: Edmonton swept the four-game season series. The Oilers have beaten St. Louis seven straight times. ... Roloson made his 25th consecutive start. ... Mason is 15-6-4 since a 3-13-1 start. ... Oilers D Ladislav Smid returned to the lineup after one game due to a neck injury.

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