The St. Louis Blues’ five-game winning streak came to an end Tuesday, and coach Ken Hitchcock said it was a matter of recent trends catching up with them after a string of one-goal games.
The first opportunity to correct those mistakes and add two points to their league-leading total comes Thursday night against the visiting Edmonton Oilers, who haven’t given the Blues anything resembling a close contest this season.
"We got away with this in Colorado and got away with it in Minnesota," Hitchcock told the team’s official website after Tuesday’s 3-2 home overtime loss to Dallas. "We didn’t get away with it tonight. We’re just feeding teams transition. We’re not putting pucks in deep, we’re not getting on the grind. We’re turning way too many pucks over.
"The times that we did things the right way, we were really effective. We had a lot of good play, but we just got too many inconsistencies within our group about putting pucks in deep, playing the right way … so we pay for it."
It was the fourth straight one-goal game for St. Louis (44-14-7), which took the lead on defenseman Alex Pietrangelo’s first-period goal and tied it at 2-all on defenseman Roman Polak’s third-period tally.
Center David Backes said St. Louis needs to do a better job of dictating the pace of the game after struggling to slow things down against the Stars.
"If we talk to each other, make solid plays tape-to-tape, get pucks out, get pucks in, go forecheck, that’s tough to play fast when we’re doing that," Backes said. "We didn’t get to that game a ton. The result is a loss on the record, but we’ve got to take some learning lessons from this one as well and play a good team on Thursday."
Ryan Miller made 27 saves and lost for the first time since joining St. Louis, falling to 4-0-1 with a 1.78 goals-against average with the Blues. He’s even better against Edmonton with a 6-0-0 record, 1.67 GAA and .943 save percentage in his career.
The Blues have relieved plenty of pressure from their goaltender against the Oilers (23-35-8) this season, winning both previous meetings by a combined 11-2 score.
Brian Elliott was in goal for both, including a 6-0 shutout on Dec. 21 in Edmonton.
The Oilers have won three of four after beginning a four-game road trip by rallying from a 3-0 first-period deficit to beat Minnesota 4-3 in a shootout on Tuesday.
Jordan Eberle had a goal and an assist, Andrew Ference had two assists and Taylor Hall converted in the fourth round of the shootout to finish the comeback.
"I’m proud of them. It would’ve been real easy to pack it in, call it a night and get on to the next game, but our guys refused to do it," coach Dallas Eakins said. "They just kept scrapping and clawing and it’s tough against a team like that."
They won’t want to again test their luck against St. Louis. The Blues are 36-1-5 when scoring first.
Viktor Fasth, playing his first game since Nov. 18 after being acquired from Anaheim at the trade deadline, made 28 saves and became the sixth goalie to play for the Oilers this season. Fasth had been limited to five games with the Ducks due to an abdominal injury.
Sam Gagner has seven points on a five-game point streak for the Oilers.