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GAME STORY: Blues 2, Oilers 1

James Neal's 16th goal of the season got Edmonton within one late in the third but the Blues held on for the slim victory

by Ryan Frankson / EdmontonOilers.com

ST. LOUIS, MO - Lots of shots and lots of penalties oddly enough didn't translate to lots of goals for the Oilers and Blues on Wednesday as the home side edged out a slim 2-1 decision.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Post-Game at STL 12.18.19

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The Oilers return to Edmonton to face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. The game can be seen on Sportsnet Oilers, East & Pacific and heard on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED. Puck drop is 7:08 p.m. MT.

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Brayden Schenn and Mackenzie MacEachren scored for St. Louis as Mikko Koskinen made 42 saves in another impressive effort between the pipes, while Jake Alllen was stellar as well for the Blues, turning aside all but one of the 36 Edmonton shots he faced.

The game also saw eight penalties taken in the opening 40 minutes - five by Edmonton, three by St. Louis - and one more in the final frame by the Blues; however, neither team was able to capitlize on the multiple man advantages.

"We had a lot of penalty trouble and [Koskinen] made some massive saves on the PK to keep us in it," said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who played 21:44 and had five shots. "We were right in there to the very end but couldn't find one more."

"It was a great hockey match," added Adam Larsson, who logged 19:49 with a pair of blocked shots. "I thought we played a good game and Mikko was really good in net. We got some great opportunities too, but we didn't find the net until late, which was kind of the story of the game."

A Connor McDavid hooking penalty gave the Blues the first power play of the night, but Koskinen made several stops and didn't allow any rebounds as the Oilers further cemented their league-best road penalty kill.

The trip to the sin bin seemed to give the Oilers captain an extra spring in his stride - as if he needed it - as McDavid was all over the ice in the opening frame, creating several high-quality scoring chances but unfortunately no goals.

Playing in his 500th NHL game, Zack Kassian gave a patented display of his physical prowess in the latter stages of the first when he pasted Oskar Sundqvist into the boards with a hard, clean hit just before the whistle on a delayed Blues penalty.

The capacity crowd at Enterprise Center pleaded for an off-setting penalty for Kassian, but the Oilers winger flashed his infectious grin on the way back to the Edmonton bench as he knew his impressive feat of strength was well within the rule book.

Video: EDM Recap: Koskinen makes 42 saves in 2-1 loss

The Oilers were unsuccessful on their first PP, but they got another one with 37 seconds to go in the period when Alex Pietrangelo was called for slashing. The visitors got a couple more shots in on Jake Allen but the score remained 0-0 at the buzzer with the Blues leading shots 15-10.

It was the Blues turn for back-to-back power plays early in the second period, but they had the fortune of having them overlap significantly as Oscar Klefbom (delay of game) and Kris Russell (cross checking) were penalized 30 seconds apart.

The aforementioned best road PK in the NHL did their thing again, though, killing off both minors to preserve the scoreless tie into the middle stages of the frame, with Leon Draisaitl even earning a decent scoring chance during the five-on-three stretch.

The home side struck first at the 8:04 mark of the period when Schenn snuck behind the Oilers defenders, took a pass from Vince Dunn, broke in alone on Koskinen and picked the top corner to make it 1-0 St. Louis.

The defending Stanley Cup winners flexed their championship muscles after they broke the deadlock, finishing the middle frame with 34 shots on goal, but Koskinen's only blemish through 40 minutes was the Schenn breakaway tally as the Finnish netminder made several exceptional saves.

Video: EDM@STL: Neal slips puck past Allen from tough angle

Perhaps the biggest save of the second went to Larsson, though, as the d-man got his skate on a Dunn attempt on the open cage as the previous shot hit the post and Koskinen couldn't quite get back across his crease in time.

The poster boy for the Blues run to the Cup set up their second goal at 6:23 of the third as Conn Smythe winner Ryan O'Reilly got the puck behind the Oilers net and found MacEachren streaking to the slot for a one-timer.

Koskinen was pulled with 2:19 remaining in favour of the extra attacker, and James Neal scored his 16th of the season with 1:50 on the clock to get the visitors within a goal, but Draisaitl's one-timer off the post was as close as they got to tallying the equalizer as the Blues held on.

"We kept pushing but just couldn't get enough," said Head Coach Dave Tippett. "Koskinen was excellent, kept us in the game. It was a little disappointing we couldn't find a way to manufacture a little more offence."

Edmonton had a power play to finish the game as well after the Blues challenged for goaltender interference on Neal's tally, but the goal call on the ice was upheld, forcing the Blues to send a player to the box.

With a 1-1-0 road trip complete, the Oilers return home for a back-to-back Friday and Saturday when they welcome the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens, respectively, to Rogers Place, before heading to Vancouver for their final game before the holiday break on Monday.

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