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Oilers aim to end Blues' five-game win streak

by David Kalan

BLUES (29-7-5) AT OILERS (14-26-5)


Last 10: St. Louis 7-1-2; Edmonton 3-5-2

Season series: This is the second game this season between the St. Louis Blues and Edmonton Oilers. The Blues won the first meeting, 6-0 on Dec. 21, 2013 at Rexall Place.

Big story: The Blues and Oilers are linked by their offseason swap this past summer of forwards Magnus Paajarvi and David Perron. The Oilers seem to have gotten the better of that deal with Perron's 33 points outpacing Paajarvi's five by a large margin.

Even without Perron's production, however, St. Louis seems to be doing just fine; the Blues are in second place in the Central Division right behind the defending-champion Chicago Blackhawks. The Oilers, meanwhile, have struggled tremendously and currently sit in the Western Conference basement.

Team Scope:

Blues: The Blues may be in second place behind Chicago, but with 63 points in 41 games, St. Louis has actually collected more points per game than any other team in the League, just edging out the Pacific Division-leading Anaheim Ducks. The Blues, who have four games in hand on the Blackhawks and have a plus-55 goal differential, by the far the best in the League, have also been winning at a blistering pace lately. St. Louis is currently on a five-game winning streak, and the Blues have one regulation loss in the past month.

Ken Hitchcock's Blues have been known for their defense, but lately the offensive has broken out as well. The Blues have scored five goals or more three times during their five-game winning streak, with two of those outbursts coming against the NHL's last two Stanley Cup champions in Chicago and the Los Angeles Kings. In their most-recent game, the Blues blew out the Columbus Blue Jackets, 6-2, on Saturday night to improve their mark to the franchise's best start ever through 41 games.

"There have some really great teams in this franchise's history," Blues captain David Backes said. "It's something to hang your hat on a little bit, but we can't rest on it. It's a reality check too because it says you're only halfway through the season. You haven't accomplished anything. We've got another half-season to go and hopefully an extended playoffs."

Oilers: If the Blues are, arguably, the League's best team, the Oilers could arguably be on the exact opposite end of the spectrum. Edmonton currently leads the rebuilding Buffalo Sabres by five points for the NHL's lowest point total, and is in last place in the Western Conference.

Despite that, the Oilers have actually played relatively well lately, all things considered. Since their most-recent game against the Blues the Oilers have gone 3-2-2 with their only losses coming against League heavyweights, the Ducks and the San Jose Sharks.

In their most-recent game, Edmonton beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-3, despite allowing Tampa Bay to rally from a 3-1 deficit in the second period.

"There were certainly some shifts in the second period where we didn't play well, but for the most part, our effort was good," Oilers forward Taylor Hall said. "Our execution was good. There have been a lot of times this season where we have gone into a third period tied or in a close game and we just haven't really played the way we should. [Sunday] was a different story."

Who's hot: Blues forward T.J. Oshie has four goals and three assists in the past four games. ... Hall has two goals and six assists in the past five games for the Oilers.

Injury report: Blues defenseman Roman Polak (lower-body injury) is on injured reserve, while forward Alex Steen (concussion) is out indefinitely and goalie Jaroslav Halak (illness) is questionable. … Oilers defenseman Corey Potter (groin injury) has missed five games and is questionable for Tuesday; defenseman Philip Larsen (illness) is out indefinitely.

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