The Oilers are back on the road in Calgary on Saturday at 8 p.m. You can listen to it live on 630 CHED or watch on CBC.
EDMONTON, AB – In their final home opener at Rexall Place, the Oilers dropped a 4-2 decision to the visiting St. Louis Blues.
The Oilers will move downtown to Rogers Place next fall, so they opened the final season in their long-time home wearing WHA-inspired orange jerseys. The night got off to a good start for the home team.
Edmonton wasted no time giving the crowd something to cheer for as they opened scoring at 1:36 of the first. Lauri Korpikoski snuck behind Carl Gunnarsson, took the puck and fired a shot past Brian Elliott. Teddy Purcell was credited with an assist. It was the first shot of the game.
Unfortunately for the Oilers, St. Louis was quick to respond. At 3:14, Cam Talbot used his blocker to deny Troy Brouwer’s shot, but a juicy rebound came right back to Jori Lehtera who made no mistake on his chance. Lehtera scored, assisted by Brouwer and Jaden Schwartz.
“We’ve got a little bit of a roller coaster thing going where we get a little energy and momentum and they come back and score and we sag a little bit,” said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. “Emotionally, we’re up and down quite a bit and that comes probably from not winning at this point and it comes from frustration. When frustration creeps in, then you get away from what you’re supposed to be doing. I do feel that rolling, that up and down on the bench, and we’ve got to fix that.”
At 16:01 of the second, the Blues took their first lead of the game. Vladimir Tarasenko blasted a rocket off an offensive zone draw for his 10th point in 10 career games against the Oilers. Jay Bouwmeester and Lehtera recorded the assists.
Paul Stastny put the Blues up 3-1 at 4:20 of the third and final frame. On the power play, Stastny tipped the puck in from out in front, assisted by Alexander Steen and Alex Pietrangelo.
The Oilers came right back as Taylor Hall scored his first of the year to make it 3-2 at 6:37. Right off an offensive zone draw, Hall cut through the Blues and lifted the puck over the blocker of Elliott with a great individual effort.
“It was a good game,” said Hall’s linemate, Matt Hendricks. “It was back and forth hockey. We played our hearts out. I thought halfway through the third we had them on the ropes. We got them into penalty trouble and they were chasing us and tripping, hooking, holding. We had them on the ropes. Unfortunately, our power play had some good looks we just weren’t able to capitalize.”
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins made an outstanding play to keep it a one-goal game by getting back and breaking up a shorthanded breakaway by Brouwer later in the third.
Steen scored to take back the Blues four-goal lead at 17:51 of the third. It was Steen’s snipe that made it 4-2, assisted by Brouwer and Stastny.
The Oilers pulled Talbot for the extra attacker but were unable to pull back within one or net the equalizer.
The loss drops the Oilers to 0-4-0 on the season.
“I think if we let it, it can get it into our heads but we’ve got to use it as motivation right now,” said Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. “We all want it. We had a really good pre-season. We were feeling good coming into the season and I thought our first two games we played really good. Same as tonight. We just weren’t good enough to win the games but we can’t get frustrated with ourselves. Obviously, we’ve got to find a way to score, we’ve got to limit the big mistakes. We’ve just got to try to stay positive and find a way to get it done.”
Edmonton takes their effort to secure their first win on the road next with a game in Calgary on Saturday night and Vancouver on Sunday.