The St. Louis Blues host the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday in the fourth and final meeting of the season between teams looking for rays of hope to take into next year.
St. Louis (31-33-12) and Edmonton (31-39-7) are both out of playoff contention, and searching for improvement in the season's final days. The Blues have dropped four of their last five games and are 2-5-2 in their last nine. However, one of those wins was a 3-2 overtime victory over the Oilers on March 17.
St. Louis has taken two of three matchups between the teams this season, and is 10-1-0 with three ties in its last 14 home matchups with Edmonton.
The Oilers, meanwhile, have dropped 14 of their last 15 games to end any hopes of repeating their run to last year's Stanley Cup finals.
Edmonton is averaging only 1.2 goals during that stretch, but is coming off a respectable offensive effort in Tuesday's 4-3 defeat to the Nashville Predators. The Oilers took a 3-2 lead on Toby Petersen's third-period goal, but allowed two unanswered to drop both games in a home-and-home series.
"To put yourself in this position, we know how difficult the wins have been for us," said Oilers coach Craig MacTavish, whose team has been riddled with injuries. "To put yourself in this position and come away empty on a night when you get three goals is pretty disappointing."
The Oilers have disappointed on the power play recently, converting just 3 of 49 chances (6.1 percent) during their skid, but one of those goals came Tuesday from Ales Hemsky. The Blues are also struggling with the man advantage, capitalizing on only 1 of 36 opportunities over the last eight games.
They have also thwarted just 25 of 36 opponent power plays during that span, and gave up two extra-man goals in a 4-1 defeat to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday - their second loss to Columbus by the same score in three days.
Former Oiler Eric Brewer, who scored the overtime winner when these teams met March 17, had the only St. Louis goal Tuesday. Goaltender Curtis Sanford returned to the lineup after missing two contests with a lower body injury, but was pulled after allowing three goals on 12 shots.
"When your team is struggling that's when you need your goalie to step up, and I wanted him to step up more than he stepped up," Blues coach Andy Murray said.
Sanford has always played well against the Oilers, though, going 5-0-0 with a 2.31 goals-against average in six career starts - tied for his most wins versus any opponent.
Edmonton netminder Dwayne Roloson is 5-3-1 with three ties and a 1.96 GAA in 12 career starts against the Blues.