ST. LOUIS, MO – Benoit Pouliot scored a pair of goals, but the red-hot St. Louis Blues were too much for the Oilers to handle on Tuesday night as they won their fifth consecutive game with a 4-2 decision.
Vladimir Tarasenko, David Backes, Jayden Schwartz and Alex Steen each lit the lamp for the Blues, while Jake Allen made 13 saves for the victory. On the other end of the ice, Ben Scrivens turned aside 25 St. Louis shots while surrendering the four goals. It took the Oilers nearly two and a half periods to get on the board, creating a too-little-too-late scenario in the defeat.
“They’re one of the best teams in the league for a reason,” Pouliot said. “Our start was a little slow, obviously, and they took it to us pretty good. We had our chances, but we just couldn’t capitalize at the beginning. It’s tough to come back against the Blues, especially in their building. They’re relentless. They’re going to play hard the whole game. We knew that going in, we just had to be more ready.”
The Oilers got off to a fairly strong start with a couple of prime scoring chances that unfortunately went unconverted. First, Anton Lander and Rob Klinkhammer had a two-on-one rush, with Lander flipping a pass to Klinkhammer, who tipped his shot off the crossbar. Shortly thereafter, Jordan Eberle got the puck in the corner and found streaking linemate Taylor Hall in the slot, but his one-timer was stymied by Allen.
After weathering the early Oilers chances, the Blues took over the remainder of the opening frame, putting a pair of shots past Scrivens. Tarasenko got the home side on the board with his 24th of the season 13:49 into the game, sneaking a low shot under Scrivens’ pad. Backes made it 2-0 less than three minutes later with his 15th, finishing a perfect centring pass from Jori Lehtera, who also set up Tarasenko’s tally, bumping him up 30 points on the year.
The Blues extended their lead 5:30 into the middle frame when Barret Jackman fired a point shot on net that was redirected by Schwartz past a helpless Scrivens for Schwartz’s 15th of the season. The Oilers netminder made his best save of the night just a few minutes later, however, as TJ Oshie made a brilliant spin-o-rama pass to find Alex Pietrangelo in by himself, but Scrivens denied him with an impressive pad save.
Despite not generating many shots on the night, the scoring chances the Oilers did get were quality, but Allen was equal to the task nearly every time. Early in the third period, Allen made another denial on Nail Yakupov on a point-blank one-timer. It was the second win in as many appearances for the Blues netminder as he returned to action this week after not playing since Dec. 27 against Dallas.
Edmonton finally solved Allen midway through the final frame on the power play, as Justin Schultz took a pass from Eberle and delivered a point shot that was deflected in by Benoit Pouliot to cut the deficit to 3-1. For Pouliot, the PPG was his third goal in the last three games, giving him seven on the season and 11 points. Schultz picked up his 18th point and Eberle his 27th on the assists. Eberle is now one point behind Hall for the Oilers scoring lead.
The Blues another insurance marker with four minutes left in the third as Alex Steen stepped into a slapshot right off a Backes faceoff win and picked the top corner to make it 4-1 for his 13th of the season. The Oilers didn’t quit after that, however, as Pouliot took a Teddy Purcell pass in the high slot and beat Allen with a wrist shot off the post and in for his second of the night, eighth on the season and fourth in the last three games. Purcell got his 19th point and Derek Roy his 17th on the helpers. Roy now has seven points in eight games since being acquired from Nashville.
The Oil get an escape from winter for the next four days as their road trip takes them to the Sunshine State for games against the Lightning and Panthers. First up is the game in Tampa on Thursday, followed by a rematch with Florida on Saturday. The Oilers and Panthers played this past Sunday at Rexall Place, with the Panthers doubling up the home side 4-2.