Oilers-Blues Preview

It took a game against the NHL’s worst team last week for the

St. Louis Blues to avoid their longest home losing streak in six


Maybe a visit by the Edmonton Oilers can help the Blues protect

their home ice.

Coming off its first home shutout loss in two seasons, St. Louis

goes for a sixth straight victory with the Oilers in town on Friday

night when these clubs open their season series.

St. Louis (10-7-2) held a 14-4 scoring edge while winning its

first three home games, but it followed with an 0-4-1 skid against

road teams that ended with Saturday’s 2-1 victory over


The well-rested Blues couldn’t build on that on Thursday, losing

3-0 to Chicago, which ran its NHL-record season-opening point

streak to 20.

It was the first time St. Louis didn’t score at home since a 6-0

loss to Calgary on March 1, 2011. The Blues have found the back of

the net three times while losing three of four, so they can’t

afford to give up another early goal after falling behind just 12

seconds into Thursday’s game.

“We’ve got to improve that,” captain David Backes told the

Blues’ official website. “That’s on our shoulders.”

The Blues, who open a five-game trip Sunday against Dallas, also

need to start capitalizing on the power play. They’ve failed in all

13 chances over the last five games after converting 12 of 32 times

in the previous eight contests.

Alex Steen, tied for second on the club with seven power-play

points, is day-to-day after missing Thursday’s game with an

upper-body injury, but Andy McDonald won’t be able to help after

being placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. Both players

were hurt in Tuesday’s practice.

The Blues, though, are 9-1-1 in their last 11 against Edmonton

(8-7-4) after winning three of four last season.

The Oilers’ last victory in St. Louis was 5-3 on Dec. 11,


Edmonton, though, arrives on the heels of Thursday’s 5-1 victory

over Dallas that helped the club improve to 1-1-0 on a

franchise-record nine-game trip.

“It’s a good feeling here tonight, and we just gotta keep those

same habits and keep it rolling,” said Sam Gagner, who scored 1:13

into the game to increase his team-high point total to 19.

Edmonton won a season-best two straight from Jan. 28-30.

The Oilers, though, could equal that with another solid effort

in net from Devan Dubnyk, who made 33 saves on Thursday in his

first action in a week after Nikolai Khabibulin (groin) was placed

on injured reserve on Wednesday.

Dubnyk, though, has a 4.83 goals-against average while losing

all six starts versus St. Louis.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Brian Elliott, who hasn’t played

since losing his fifth consecutive start on Feb. 11, would start

either Friday or Sunday. If it’s Friday, it will be Elliott’s first

game against Edmonton in two seasons.

Jaroslav Halak was in net for each meeting in 2011-12. He turned

aside 66 of 71 shots to help St. Louis win the last three.

Edmonton’s Taylor Hall, who had an assist Thursday after serving

a two-game suspension for kneeing Minnesota’s Cal Clutterbuck last

week, tied Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with a team-best three points

against the Blues in 2011-12.

Backes and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo each had five points to

pace St. Louis.