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GAME STORY: Blues 7, Oilers 2

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tied a career high in goals with his 24th of the year in the Oilers 7-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues

by Ryan Frankson / EdmontonOilers.com

ST. LOUIS, MO - Three goals from Jaden Schwartz and two from David Perron powered the St. Louis Blues to a 7-2 victory over the Oilers on Tuesday at Enterprise Center.

Alex Pietrangelo and Patrick Maroon also scored for St. Louis, while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Zack Kassian tallied for the Oilers in the high-scoring defeat.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Post-Game at STL 03.19.19

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The Oilers return to Rogers Place for a five-game home stand beginning Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The game can be seen on Sportsnet One, East, Pacific, Ontario and heard on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED. Puck drop is 7:08 p.m. MDT.

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Edmonton concluded its three-game road trip with a 1-2-0 record and will return home to Rogers Place for five in a row to round out the month starting Thursday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"Not to take anything away from St. Louis, they were outstanding, but we're running on fumes, need to get home and see if we can get some rest," said Oilers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock. "We're banged up and there's not much left of us. We just need to regroup and get ready for the homestand. It's a tough loss."

Vladimir Tarasenko, back in the Blues lineup after missing five games with an injury, had the first prime scoring chance of the night. The Russian got tangled up with goaltender Mikko Koskinen as the play started to go the other way; however, the Blues got it back with Tarasenko still at the Edmonton blueline. The winger was sprung in alone but Koskinen flashed the leather for a superb save.

A few minutes later, however, St. Louis secured the first lead of the night when Schwartz picked the top corner from a sharp angle for his eighth goal of the season, with assists to Michael Del Zotto and Perron - the former Oilers winger who extended his injury-interrupted point streak to 16 games with the helper.

The teams exchanged power plays in the latter stages of the opening frame but neither squad was able to convert with the man advantage and the 1-0 score held up through 20 minutes. The Blues outshot the Oilers 13-5 in the first period.

Schwartz continued his strong play in the middle frame, springing Pietrangelo in alone on Koskinen for a backhand deke goal to extend the St. Louis lead to 2-0 just 27 seconds into the period. Oskar Sundqvist also assisted on Pietrangelo's 13th of the season.

At the 5:42 mark of the middle frame, the Blues extended their lead to 3-0 courtesy - you guessed it - Schwartz. Just as Darnell Nurse's cross-checking penalty had expired, Schwartz's shot from the high slot beat Koskinen through traffic for his second of the night and ninth of the year.

The third goal against prompted the Oilers to remove Koskinen from the game and replace him with Anthony Stolarz, making his third appearance - second in relief - since the team acquired him from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Cam Talbot.

The goalie switch unfortunately didn't achieve the desired effect as the Blues struck again 1:32 later when Perron banked in a shot from below the goal line for his second point of the night and 19th tally of the season.

Video: Schwartz's hat trick propels Blues in rout of Oilers

Two former teammates dropped the gloves for a spirited scrap at 13:08 of the middle frame as Kassian and Maroon slugged it out at centre ice. Kassian opened the fight with a series of heavy lefts but the majority of the tussle was evenly matched.

"I had dinner with the guy last night but I have a job to do," Kassian told Sportsnet's Gene Principe regarding the bout with his buddy. "I'll text him after the game and hang with him this summer. I love him to death."

The Oilers came within literal inches of getting on the board later in the period when Connor McDavid's wrist shot struck Jordan Binnington's glove and was floating through the air towards the net until Colton Parayko whacked it out of mid-air with his stick. 

The close call was a sign of things to come for the Oilers as they were finally able to solve Binnington with two quick goals in the final 1:29 of the middle frame courtesy Nugent-Hopkins and Kassian under similar circumstances, cutting the deficit to 4-2.

After Milan Lucic shot the puck off the end boards, Nugent-Hopkins was waiting at the side of the net to bang home the rebound, and despite Binnington sliding across with a valiant attempt to make a pad save, RNH's shot was successful and the centreman had his 24th of the season, tying a career high.

Video: POST-GAME RAW | Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 2019.03.19

Just 54 seconds later, Kassian made a nifty toe-drag move and dangled behind the Blues net, quickly wrapping the puck around and wedging it between the post and Binnington's outstretched pad. Just like the Nugent-Hopkins tally, the on-ice officials were initially unable to determine whether the puck had crossed the goal line, but after a brief review it was confirmed for Kassian's 13th of the season.

Fortunately for the Blues, the intermission tempered the Oilers momentum and the home team was able to extend their lead to 5-2 at the 6:00 mark of the third as Perron scored his second of the night with his team on the power play.

"We spent a lot of energy coming back in the game and the fifth goal was a killer for us," Hitchcock said. "Against a good team like that, you can't take a penalty 200 feet from your net, and then we couldn't get it killed."

Just like Kassian did late in the second, Maroon added a goal to his fight on the scoresheet, extending the Blues lead to 6-2 at the 13:22 mark of the final frame, upping the haul to a half-dozen for the Show-Me State squad.

Finally, with Milan Lucic ejected for a cross-checking major on Sundqvist, Schwartz was able to snipe home his hat-trick goal with 1:12 remaining in the game.

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