EDMONTON, AB -
Edmonton tied the game twice early on but the St. Louis Blues would pull away in the second and close out the third period on route to a 5-2 victory over the Oilers at Rexall Place.
“It’s frustrating,” said Oilers centre Boyd Gordon. “We can’t seem to get over that hump, especially against a good team like that. They’re not going to give you much and you’re not going to get many breaks. Again, we don’t want to hang our heads we just want to keep going, push forward and try to find something, playing desperate hockey.”
At 12:46 of the opening period, the St. Louis Blues capitalized on a power play as Nick Schultz was penalized for tripping. Chris Stewart unleashed a bomb of a point shot which game the visitors a 1-0 lead. Derek Roy and Jordan Leopold earned the assists on the game’s opening score.
“I didn’t love our start,” said Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins. “I thought we were watching them play again. Especially, in our own zone. We weren’t initiating content. We finally figured that out and got going. We came up with some offensive zone time and I thought we were playing with them…”
The Oilers rebounded with a quick start to the second period as David Perron set up Nail Yakupov at the St. Louis blue line at 1:36. Yakupov sent a snap shot past goaltender Brian Elliott to even up the score. Nick Schultz earned a secondary assist. The goal was Yakupov’s ninth of the season and third in his last four games.
St. Louis regained the lead less than a minute later at 2:18. Maxim Lapierre swiped at the puck in close on Ilya Bryzgalov and snuck it in a small gap between the goalie and the post.
The replays initially appeared to show the puck going through the side of the net, but it was later determined that it was indeed a good goal, deflecting off of Bryzgalov and in just past the post.
“I can’t tell exactly what happened,” said Bryzgalov. “I know the puck hit me in the stick and I tried to seal the post and I was kind of surprised when the puck was in the net.”
Instead of folding after the Blues go-ahead goal, the Oilers instead returned the favour. At 5:10 of the second period, Luke Gazdic took the puck from behind Elliott and sent a centring pass out in front. It was Mark Arcobello who scooped up the puck and found twine for his fourth goal of the season. Captain Andrew Ference earned the secondary assist on the game-tying goal as the score evened at two.
St. Louis would capitalize on the power play for the second time on the night, at 10:56 of the middle frame. A delay of game penalty to Ryan Jones was the culprit as the Oilers went down, 3-2.
“They got a couple of power play goals,” said Oilers Taylor Hall. “We didn’t get any power play chances. I thought for the most part, we battled hard. Sometimes, against teams like that, we give them easy offence and really play into their hands. I don’t know if that was the case tonight.”
USA Olympic skater David Backes shot the puck from the top of the circleand went top-shelf over the glove of Bryzgalov. Alex Pietrangelo earned the assist and the Blues took the lead.
The Blues claimed a two-goal lead with 6:03 remaining in the second when Vladimir Tarasenko fired a longe-range wrist shot off the draw, finding the back of the net. Leopold and Vladimir Sobotka were awarded the assists.
“They get a couple of power play goals and I don’t think we had a power play tonight so special teams battle is huge,” said Gordon. “They don’t give you much. It’s a tough loss and our schedule doesn’t get any easier. We need to find a way to get a win.”
The Oilers pulled Bryzgalov for the extra attacker with 2:23 remaining in the game. St. Louis pounced on the empty net at 19:27 to close out the win.
“These teams are really good and they’re at the top for a reason,” said Hall. “We know that it’s going to be a tough task when they come in. We have to play our game as best we can. We can’t worry about who we’re playing. But certainly, a loss is a loss. It’s getting a little late for the moral victories.”