Khabibulin, Oilers blank Blues 3-0

March 26, 2013

ST. LOUIS (AP) ST. LOUIS (AP) Nikolai Khabibulin is finding his groove after a bumpy start to the season.

The 40-year-old goalie had offseason hip surgery and was put on the injured reserve in late February with a groin injury.

In his second game back, he stopped all 43 shots he faced and Jordan Eberle had two goals and an assist and the Edmonton Oilers defeated the St. Louis Blues 3-0 Tuesday.

Khabibulin played in just six games this season prior to the shutout.

"I feel a lot better than before surgery," he said. "I'm enjoying it. When your body doesn't hurt as much, it makes it more fun."

The victory was the first for the Oilers in four games, which included Khabibulin's return in a 3-0 loss to the Blues on Saturday in Edmonton. It was the Oilers' first win in St. Louis since Dec. 11, 2009.

Despite getting a season high in shots, St. Louis lost for the third time in four games and was shut out for the third time this season. It also had a four-game home winning streak snapped.

"A lot of shots in volume, but maybe too many perimeter (shots) and not enough second and third opportunities," David Backes said. "All goalies in the NHL are good and if you're not getting those chances, it's tough to score."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock kept reporters waiting for 1 hour, 17 minutes after the game.

"You have the same people, they just want different pieces of the pie," Hitchcock said.

Taylor Hall, who assisted on both of Eberle's goals, also scored. It was his eighth of the season off a rebound from Eberle, who skated in on a breakaway.

"We're all happy for him," Hall said of Khabibulin. "He's worked really hard to come back from surgery and it's great to see him play well. You can really see he's enjoying it. He makes tough saves look easy and goes about his business."

Khabibulin got his first shutout of the season, and the 46th of his career and his first against the Blues.

He stopped 21 shots in the second period, including two breakaways. He first kept David Perron from scoring to set up Eberle's second goal and he later stopped Backes from close range.

"It's nice to get a stop on a breakaway." Khabibulin said. "I guess if they would have scored then it would have been 1-1 and not 2-0. It turns out to be an important save."

Eberle has nine goals this season and his three-point night ended a three-game drought. It also marked his first three-point game of the season. It's the second time he has scored twice for the Oilers. He scored two goals in a 6-4 victory over Colorado on Feb. 16.

"They came into our barn and ran us out pretty good," Eberle said. "Tonight we wanted to send a message that we can play tough too. "

Jake Allen entered the game with an 8-2 record and 2.26 goals-against average, before giving up three goals on seven shots. He was pulled after Hall's goal and replaced by Jaroslav Halak.

"It's still my job to stop the puck, I've got to find a way," Allen said. "This was not my best effort."

The Oilers finished with 19 shots.

NOTES: The Blues have been shut out three times this season. ... Hall's two assists were his
first in four games, after getting five in a four-game span. . Edmonton has outscored its opponents 28-22 in the first period this season. ... This was the third and final game between the teams this season with all games played in March. ... Ladislav Smid entered the game leading the league in blocked shots with 89.