The Edmonton Oilers are looking to avoid a third straight loss. A matchup with the St. Louis Blues could be just what they need.
The Oilers try to post their sixth consecutive victory against the Blues on Thursday at the Scottrade Center.
Edmonton (25-22-3) is among several teams battling for one of the final four playoff spots in the Western Conference. The Oilers, however, haven't been doing much to improve their postseason chances since returning from the All-Star break.
After scoring 21 times while going 5-1-0 just before the break, Edmonton has managed seven goals in losing three of four. They totaled two goals in dropping the last two contests, and were outshot 41-21 in Tuesday's 3-1 loss to Chicago.
"It's hard to exhibit intensity in the defensive zone and we spent the majority of our time there," said Oilers coach Craig MacTavish, whose team concluded a 3-3 homestand. "Our smaller guys didn't exhibit a lot of skill or make a lot of plays and that is a bad combination."
MacTavish's club might be further limited after losing Lubomir Visnovsky to a dislocated shoulder in the third period. The defenseman, fourth on the Oilers with 31 points, is day-to-day.
Edmonton did get back second-year forward Sam Gagner, who missed the previous three games with an ankle injury. Gagner has been held to one assist in his last six games, but has two goals and five assists in five career contests versus the Blues. He had a goal and an assist in a 2-1 home win over St. Louis on Jan. 11.
That victory was the Oilers' second of the season over the Blues, and fifth straight in the series. Four of those wins have come by one goal.
Edmonton has also won its last three visits to St. Louis (21-24-5), and the Oilers will be opening a three-game road trip Thursday.
Edmonton is 13-11-0 away from Rexall Place, and the Blues haven't had much of an advantage at the Scottrade Center, where they're 12-10-3 entering the start of a three-game homestand.
St. Louis is last in the West with 47 points, but has gone 5-1-2 in its last eight. On Tuesday, Brad Boyes had two goals and an assist and Jay McClement scored twice in a 4-2 win at Columbus.
"We've been playing well. We've been playing solid," said Boyes, the Blues' leader with 22 goals and 44 points. "For us right now, unless everyone goes, we struggle. If everyone picks up what they've got to do, that's when we're successful."
Boyes has been doing his part with two goals and five assists during a three-game point streak. He has seven goals and five assists in 10 games versus the Oilers, though he was kept off the scoresheet in the teams' latest matchup.
Chris Mason is 2-0 with a 2.51 goals-against average versus the Oilers, although he hasn't faced them since Dec. 12, 2006 while with Nashville. He continued his recent run of outstanding play Tuesday with 33 saves and is 4-1-1 with a 1.29 GAA in his last six games.
Edmonton's Dwayne Roloson had 38 saves Tuesday, but lost his second straight start and third in four games since the break. He's played well against the Blues, however, allowing three total goals in two meetings this season to improve to 5-1-1 with a 1.43 GAA in his last seven matchups.