The St. Louis Blues reclaimed the home-ice advantage that has been missing for most of the season.
And they did it the hard way.
Vladmir Sobotka put St. Louis ahead early in the third period and added an assist for the Blues, who rallied from two goals down to beat the Edmonton Oilers, 4-2, on Friday night.
David Backes added an insurance tally with 5:20 to go, and Jaroslav Halak was strong throughout in net for the Blues, who trailed 2-0 after the first period.
”We’re not a pretty team to tic-tac-toe up the ice, 3-on-2, saucer pass across the ice for something cute,” said Backes, the team captain. ”That’s just not us. We’re hard-nosed, blue-collar, in-your-face. We saw glimpses of that tonight that we haven’t seen in a long time.”
They had been 1-5-1 in their previous seven at home while getting outscored 26-11. The Blues totaled just three goals the previous four games overall, all but one of them at home, and were shut out twice.
Kevin Shattenkirk scored the tying goal late in the second to snap St. Louis’ 0-for-14, power-play drought. Jaden Schwartz also scored for the Blues, who lost six home games in regulation last season but are 5-5-1 there this year.
Schwartz played on the first line with Backes and David Perron in place of injured Andy McDonald.
”I thought our second period was excellent,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. ”We really started to take the game over.”
Taylor Hall and Ryan Whitney scored in a span of 23 seconds late in the first period for Edmonton, which played the third game of a nine-game trip. The Oilers, who ended a six-game losing streak against the Dallas Stars with a 5-1 victory on Thursday, have lost six in a row in St. Louis.
”I think we get comfortable,” Whitney said. ”I don’t know really what it is. They’re a big, heavy team, and we could do the same thing, but it seems like we don’t want it sometimes.”
Halak made his fourth straight start with slumping Brian Elliott on the bench for the eighth straight game. Halak made just 15 saves in the win after losing to Chicago on Thursday.
Elliott, who led the NHL with a 1.56 goals-against average and nine shutouts last season, is just 3-5-1 with a 3.57 goals-against average.
Hitchcock plans to play him on Sunday at Dallas.
”In fairness to Brian, I think we’d like to start him on the road and see how he goes,” Hitchcock said. ”This was important. We needed to get this game. We couldn’t afford to lose this game.”
Sobotka, who plays on a checking line, wheeled around the net and scored his second of the season from a sharp angle with a shot that deflected off goalie Devan Dubnyk’s pad at 4:58.
Sobotka also had the first assist on Shattenkirk’s tying goal from the point late in the second.
Hall slipped a rebound between the legs of teammate Justin Schultz and past Halak to put the Oilers up with 2:30 left in the first. Whitney, a healthy scratch the previous four games, cashed in on Edmonton’s next shot with his first goal of the season to make it 2-0.
The Blues outshot the Oilers 7-0 during the first eight-plus minutes, but had no shots in the final nine-plus minutes.
In the second period, they dominated throughout, outshooting Edmonton 11-4 and tying it at 2 on goals by Schwartz and Shattenkirk.
”They came with a good push and we’ve got to give them credit,” Oilers left wing Ben Eager said. ”We played last night, that’s not an excuse.
”With a two-goal lead on the road you’ve got to try to get out of here with some points.”
Schwartz scored his second of the season on the rebound of T.J. Oshie’s shot off a defender early in the period, and Shattenkirk threaded a shot from the point through traffic past Dubnyk just past the midway point.
NOTES: The attendance of 19,120 was the Blues’ fourth sellout. … Hall has scored in both games since returning from a two-game suspension for kneeing Minnesota’s Cal Clutterbuck. Oilers coach Ralph Krueger said Hall might be out a few days because of a leg injury sustained when he hit the boards in the second period. … The Blues were whistled twice for too many men on the ice. ”It’s not line changes, it’s doziness,” Hitchcock said. ”We get caught in-between.”