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Under the Scope: Oilers at Blues

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

After coming away with a 3-1 loss Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings, the Oilers were looking to achieve the opposite result in the first of a three-game road trip. In much the same fashion as Wednesday's game, Edmonton began the battle with a poised, energetic style.

Unfortunately, that strong start failed to result in positive gains. The Oilers heavily out-shot the Blues by a commanding 13-5 margin in the first period, but were unable to establish a lead against the hometown Blues. Although the Oilers were on the positive side of the shot clock, only two attempts on goal were recorded in the final 10 minutes of the opening period. It could, once again, be considered a game of missed opportunities early on.

Midway through the second period, the visitors had now fallen behind 4-1. The Blues had recovered from a disappointing start to take control of the game on the back of cashed chances. The Oilers, however, kept fighting. Goals from Taylor Hall and Theo Peckham brought the Oilers within one just before the middle frame expired.

Edmonton hoped to continue its hot hand as the game entered the third period, but Blues goaltender and former-Oiler Ty Conklin stood tall. Midway through the frame, another former-Oiler was up to the task of frustrating his previous club. Brad Winchester eventually cashed on a goal-mouth scramble to put the Blues up 5-3. That goal ultimately sealed the Oilers' fate on this night, falling by that same score as the final buzzer sounded.

Devan Dubnyk returned to the crease tonight, making 21 saves on 26 shots for the loss. His personal record now drops to 5-5-6 on the season.

All you need to know and more as we go Under the Scope:

While the missed opportunities in the first period certainly contributed to the unusual offensive pace, the Oilers were still very much in the game after one period of play. As the second period began, however, St. Louis took over on the scoreboard. Matt D'Agostini's power-play goal midway through the second extended the Blues' lead to 3-1. Shortly thereafter, Brad Boyes scored for the home side once again. With a 4-1 disadvantage facing the visiting Oilers, the attempted charge late in the frame would prove to be too little, too late. The Oilers were unable to get back on even terms for the rest of the evening.

56 For the first time in quite a while, the Oilers came out on the positive side of the faceoff battle tonight. In total, 56% of the draws were won by Edmonton. Andrew Cogliano led the way with a 9-4, 69% outing.
18 While the Oilers were able to pepper Ty Conklin all evening, but clubs were stepping up defensively to aid their goaltenders. Each team accumulated a total of 18 blocked shots tonight.
48 Combined, the Oilers and Blues dished out a total of 48 hits this evening. Edmonton was able to record 20, while St. Louis bettered that number with 28 on the night.
9 The Oilers have now lost nine games this season when out-shooting their opponent. When doing so, the team's record is 2-9-2.

Andy McDonald
G A P +/- Shots
0 1 1 +2 1

TJ Oshie
G A P +/- Shots
1 0 1 E 1

Ty Conklin
32 29 3 60:00 .906

Ty Conklin
32 29 3 60:00 .906

Devan Dubnyk
26 21 5 58:00 .808

Barret Jackman - D

  25:38 - 1A, +1 rating

Tom Gilbert - D

23:16 - 0P, +1 rating

Unfortunately for the Oilers, it was a play that ultimately kickstarted the Blues' offensive showcase. Following a number of Oilers scoring chances, the Blues countered with numbers and speed to expose an unready defensive group. Alex Steen burst up the ice with tremendous speed, beating his man Ladislav Smid in the process. After gaining position, he then passed across to TJ Oshie who sniped a wrist-shot over the shoulder of Dubnyk to put the Blues up 1-0 midway through the opening period. It was a fine display of skill and hockey sense that quickly opened the scoring.

Former-Oiler Ty Conklin had a terrific night in goal for the Blues. For much of the game, he was tested both with quality and quantity. The Oilers were unable to capitalize on several five-star chances in the opening frame, and were turned aside several times as Edmonton pushed for the equalizer late in the third. When all was said and done, Conklin finished the night with 29 saves on 32 Oilers shots; 13 of which were recorded in the first period when Edmonton looked to establish a lead.

The return of Jordan Eberle was certainly a positive for the Oilers, as he recorded a two-assist evening. But so, too, did speedster Andrew Cogliano. Along with his own two-assist performance, Cogliano finished with a plus-one rating and an incredibly impressive 9-4, 69% outing in the faceoff circle. For a player looking to firmly establish himself on this roster in the centre position, Cogliano had a tremendous two-way evening to help turn some heads as the road trip gets underway.

Although the Oilers had established a strong offensive attack early in the game, the energized forecheck fell into a lull as the period progressed. Ladislav Smid, however, did his best to change the dynamic of an otherwise tame first period. With TJ Oshie challenging in Edmonton's end, Smid caught the crafty forward with a solid check that resulted in a violent tumble to the ice. Oshie was off-balance, and therefore rotated in the air as the new physical tone had been set with under a minute to play in the first.

Tonight's theme, which was an unfortunate carry-over from Wednesday night, was a topic of missed chances. In the first period, 11 of the Oilers' 13 shots came in the opening 10 minutes. Following that, the Oilers also gave up three separate odd-man rushes, to which Edmonton was unable to counter. After the first 10 minutes, these particular statistics help shed some light on the way in which the game's dynamic can change so significantly following a sequence of missed opportunities.

"I don't stay [in the room] long enough to find out if there's frustration. I hope not. If there is, we've got to get it the hell out of there in a hurry. We've got to play hockey."

-  Head Coach Tom Renney on the potential mood in the dressing room following the loss to St. Louis

Saturday, February 5 vs. Columbus
  5:00pm MT (CBC / 630 CHED)

After recording a third consecutive loss, the Oilers now travel to Columbus in the second half of a back-to-back set help turn the tide of this current road trip. Game-time is 5pm MST, and all the action can be seen on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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