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Tarasenko's OT goal lifts Blues over Oilers

by Louie Korac

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues had the better of the opportunities against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night. The shot margin was 41-16 in favor of the Blues, who somehow found themselves having to work overtime to collect two points.

Against a desperate team looking to snap multiple skids, the Blues felt if they remained resilient, the result would play out in their favor.

Vladimir Tarasenko's goal with 39.4 seconds remaining in overtime gave the Blues a 4-3 victory against the Edmonton Oilers at Scottrade Center.

Tarasenko took a puck from Jori Lehtera, weaved through the middle of the ice before cutting past Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz and fired a wrist shot on the short side past Oilers goaltender Ben Scrivens.

"I was waiting on a pass from Jori," said Tarasenko, who leads the Blues in goals with 13 and tied Alexander Steen with his third game-winning goal. It was his second game-winner in overtime.

"I know [Lehtera's] going to pass it to me," Tarasenko added. "It was kind of lucky because puck was bounding. I'm happy to have two points right now."

T.J. Oshie had a goal and two assists, Alex Pietrangelo had a goal and an assist and Kevin Shattenkirk scored for the Blues (15-6-2), who got 13 saves from Jake Allen.

"I liked our first and third [periods]," said Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who tied Mike Keenan for sixth place on the all-time coaching wins list with 672. "I liked a lot of guys in the first. I liked [Paul] Stastny's line in the first and I liked Stastny's line in the third.

"I didn't like anybody in the second period. We didn't manage the puck very well. We were too far ahead of the play and we've had that before. We had it on the road in Boston and in Montreal and it popped its head again. There were some people that really tried to grab the game in the third period and play the right way. In particular, Stastny's line started to really play the game the right way and it started to drag a few more people. [Patrik] Berglund played a good hockey game and started to manage the game properly. I think more and more guys got involved and managed the game properly."

The Oilers (6-14-4) are 0-11-3 against Western Conference foes this season and are on a nine-game winless streak (0-6-3). They were playing the second of back-to-back games after losing 1-0 in overtime at the Nashville Predators on Thursday.

"This is an extremely hard and tough situation for everybody in our organization, from the players to the coaches to the managers, it is hard and it is painful and somewhere you have to believe that this is going to make you extremely resilient and tough down the road," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "Are you sitting there sometimes going, 'What is it going to take to get a bounce, to get a call, to get something in your favor,' and right now it doesn't seem like hockey wants to give that to us. Even on nights where we believe that we do deserve the break or that we've earned the break."

Center Mark Arcobello and former Blues David Perron and Nikita Nikitin scored for the Oilers, Taylor Hall had two assists and Scrivens stopped 37 shots.

"I think we're getting what we deserve right now," Scrivens said. "I don’t think we're playing good enough to win in the NHL."

On their 14th shot of the first period, the Blues took a 1-0 lead on Oshie's second of the season. After getting a drop pass from Tarasenko, Oshie stepped into a slap shot and beat Scrivens with a one-timer from the top of the right circle with 8:25 left in the period.

The Blues were buzzing all over the Oilers' zone and outshot Edmonton 15-3 in the first period but skated off the ice at intermission with a 1-0 lead.

"A lot of chances early," said Oshie, who doubled his season point total. "That first power play was the best two minutes that I’ve been on this year. A lot of chances. I think as a team we had a really good first period."

But as thoroughly as the Blues dominated the first, the Oilers were down only one goal. Edmonton picked up the pace and was the better team in the second period.

Perron tied the game on a shot from between the circles at 5:51 after a defensive breakdown. Nikitin came in and took a backdoor pass from Hall and snapped a one-timer from the left circle past Allen with 3:14 left in the period. It was the Oilers' first lead in a game since defeating the New York Rangers on Nov. 9.

"Obviously the second wasn't out best in terms of how we wanted to manage the puck," said Pietrangelo, who set a career high with 10 shots on goal.

The Blues didn't take too well to being down after two periods, and Shattenkirk's shot from the blue line through a screen 31 seconds into the third period tied the game 2-2. David Backes’ forecheck behind the Edmonton net freed the puck for Oshie, who fed Shattenkirk. He beat Scrivens as Oilers defenseman Jeff Petry screened his goalie.

Arcobello gave the Oilers a 3-2 lead at 3:55. The Blues failed to clear the puck, and he beat Allen from the slot off a centering feed from Hall.

Pietrangelo tied it with 7:35 remaining when he cleaned up Oshie's miss from right in front; beating Scrivens on the open side high into the net after the Blues had sustained pressure.

The Blues, who did not have to kill a penalty on the night, had a power play in overtime but were not able to solve Scrivens.

On the other end, Allen spent most of the night passing the time. Nine of the Oilers' 16 shots came in the second period, so the Blues' goalie was focused mostly on staying mentally sharp.

"That was the toughest game I’ve played in a long time," Allen said. "[Three] shots in the first. But the team has sort of nothing going right away and then they get a huge flurry of action. It is tough but it's no excuse. Definitely not my best game. The guys battled in front of me and helped me out and got me some goal support and came up with the win, which is a big thing right now. We’re just focusing on wins and however we can get them, that’s the main thing."

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