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Oilers hope to end skid against Blues

by John Manasso

OILERS (11-13-7) at BLUES (17-12-2)


Last 10: Edmonton 3-4-3; St. Louis 6-4-0

Season series: This is the third and final meeting. St. Louis has won both previous matchups, including 4-2 on March 1 and 3-0 at Edmonton’s Rexall Place on Saturday.

Big story: On Monday, Edmonton lost its third in a row (0-2-1), 3-2 to Nashville, and fell five points out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs race. The Blues, meanwhile, stand in seventh in the Western Conference, with only two points separating them from eighth place.

Team Scope:

Oilers: After a 3-0 loss at home on Saturday to St. Louis in which the Rexall Place fans voiced their displeasure with the home team, Edmonton coach Ralph Krueger expected his team to come out strong against Nashville in the next game. It didn’t happen.

“I don’t know what it was early,” center Shawn Horcoff said. “We weren’t playing the way we needed to do and all the sudden we responded in the third and came out the way we wanted to at the start and controlled the whole period. It’s just not enough. Twenty minutes against good teams just aren’t enough.”

Among the positives for Edmonton was its performance on the power play. It went 1-for-4 and on one of its unsuccessful power plays, kept the puck in the Predators’ zone for 1:53.

The big issue, however, is even-strength play for Edmonton. Nashville scored all three of its goals at 5-on-5.

“We just made it pretty easy on their skilled guys and didn’t play on their end enough,” said Edmonton center Sam Gagner, whose team was outshot 22-14 in the first two periods. “We kind of allowed them to get what they wanted and it’s unfortunate because it’s a team we are trying to catch and we’re right there and we’ve got to find a way to turn it up tomorrow and get a win.”

Blues: St. Louis at least had a day off on Monday as it awaits the Oilers. In their 3-2 loss at Calgary on Sunday, the Blues badly outshot the Flames, 38-17. They fell behind 2-0, tied it up, but gave up a late goal to Jarome Iginla to suffer the loss.

A major concern for the Blues is their power play. They have scored only one power-play goal in their last six games, making them 1-for-20 in the process. The Blues will be looking for their first power-play goal in four games on Tuesday.

“We played hard and competed, but for us to get moving ahead, our power play has to become a force again,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after the game. “We’re giving up too many opportunities that we work to earn. It’s something we want to address. If we continue to play good 5-on-5 hockey, we’ll be all right.”

Who’s hot: Horcoff has two goals in his past three games and five points in his past seven. Edmonton left wing Taylor Hall has eight points in his past seven contests. ... The Blues activated right wing T.J. Oshie off injured reserve on Saturday after he missed three games and in his two games since, he has had two goals and an assist. Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak shut out Edmonton on Saturday.

Injury report: Oilers center Eric Belanger suffered a groin injury on Monday and did not return. … For St. Louis, Jamie Langenbrunner is out for the season with a hip injury.

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