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Stewart's hat trick powers Blues past Oilers

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- Chris Stewart is wielding a hot stick.

Stewart had his third career hat trick to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 6-0 victory against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on Saturday night.

Stewart, who has eight goals in his past six games, also collected an assist in the win.

"I have to keep shooting, I guess," Stewart said. "I kind of had a rough start of the year, and I told myself I wasn't going to pass up any more opportunities in the slot. I'm going to shoot to score and it's been working out as of late.

"A huge credit goes to my linemates. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and they teed it up for me."

Stewart scored the opening goal in the first period, assisted on Brenden Morrow's goal in the second and added two goals in the third. Jaden Schwartz and Patrik Berglund also scored in the final period for the Blues (24-7-4), and Brian Elliott made 23 saves for his second shutout of the season and the 23rd of his career.

"He's putting himself in good positions and the guys are working hard to get him the puck," Elliott said. "He was open and finding those little soft spots. It's nice to see him burying them when he has the chance. We need guys like that scoring goals for us going forward."

The news wasn't all good for the Blues. Forward Alexander Steen, their leading scorer, did not return after the second period. Coach Ken Hitchcock did not have an update on Steen’s status after the game.

The Blues got off to a slow start and were outshot 14-5 in the first period. Yet Stewart scored the lone goal at 11:57, shortly after a Blues penalty to David Backes had expired. The play began in the Blues zone when Oilers defenseman Andrew Ference took a bad-angled shot that rimmed around the boards toward Backes as he was coming out of the penalty box.

The Blues captain, making his return to the lineup after missing two games with a concussion, was unable to catch up to the puck but forced Oilers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to come out of his crease to play it. Bryzgalov played the puck off the glass to Schwartz, who found Stewart unattended in front as the Oilers were making a change.

"I think there is continuity on that line [Stewart, Schwartz, Morrow], they know where each other are," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Things that they were thinking of are automatic now. They have great reads, they know exactly where he's going to be. From the red line in they have great chemistry."

Bryzgalov made 27 saves for the Oilers (11-24-3), who have lost a season-high six in a row. Edmonton was shut out for the third time in its last five games and the sixth time this season.

"I'm pinning this loss on the boneheaded mistakes we make when we have everything going in our favor," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "It is like we love misery. It's like, 'Oh hold on a second, things are going too well here. Let's have some misery.'

"I've had enough misery already and we've got some players who have been here for a number of years that have to be done with it. There has to be a change in the commitment level and the accountability from within the room."

The Blues took control of the game in the second period, outshooting the Oilers 14-4. They went on to outshoot the Oilers 28-9 through the final two periods.

"We were outplayed in the first and our goalie was our best player," Hitchcock said. "We've had some of those starts before and we've recovered in some and in some we haven't.

"We were disappointed, we really thought we turned the corner in the Montreal game [a 5-1 win on Thursday]. We didn't have a great first period, then had some great stuff and we came back. We had a great second and third period and really took over the hockey game."

Morrow made it 2-0 at 5:50 of the second period, finishing off a three-way passing play inside the Oilers zone. Derek Roy found Stewart with a cross-ice feed, and Stewart found Morrow in front.

The Blues blew the game open in the third period. ??????????????????

Stewart scored at 1:46, finishing off a Berglund centering feed and beating Bryzgalov from in tight. Schwartz made it 4-0 at 2:38 beating Bryzgalov with a long wrist shot that fooled the Oilers goaltender. Stewart completed his hat trick at 7:27 during a 4-on-3 power play, tapping in a cross-crease feed from Roy. Berglund completed the scoring at 12:42 on a shot Bryzgalov misplayed and had bounce up over him and into the net.

"They came out strong and we weathered the storm and scored one," Elliott said. "Then we settled into what we wanted to do in the second. We wanted to finish out with a good 20 minutes in the third. We were getting guys making plays and obviously Stewart scoring three definitely helps on a night like [Saturday]."

The Oilers host the Winnipeg Jets on Monday, the same night the Blues visit the Calgary Flames.

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