Blues’ Bad 1st Too Much to Overcome In Loss to Oilers

Rogers Place, Edmonton, Alberta

Edmonton’s Adam Larsson battles Ryan O’Reilly during Friday’s game in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Andy Devlin/NHL via Getty Images)

St. Louis, 31-12-8, 1st place in Central Division at Edmonton, 26-18-6, 3rd place in Pacific Division

The 1st place Blues continue their tour of Canada tonight as they make a stop in Edmonton. The Blues and Oilers are both coming off games against Calgary that went to a shootout. St. Louis won their shootout (their first of the year) Tuesday, while the Oilers lost theirs Wednesday night.

Although the Blues came up with the 2 points at Calgary, Coach Berube was not at all happy with the Blues’ defensive effort. St. Louis will need to get back to their grinding, defensive style to contain the all-star combo of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

Alexander Steen will suit up for the Blues, evidently well enough to hit the ice for his 999th game after suffering a lower-body injury in the 2nd period against the Flames Tuesday. Carl Gunnarsson will fill out the defensive pairings, with Robert Bortuzzo and Troy Brouwer being healthy scratches. Brouwer was called back to the Blues due to injuries to Oskar Sundqvist and MacKenzie MacEachern.

1st period

If Chief wasn’t happy with his team’s play in Calgary, then the first period wouldn’t make him feel any better. The Oilers jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, with Leon Draisaitl and Caleb Jones scoring 17 seconds apart about five and a 1/2 minutes in.

St. Louis played one of their worst periods of the season. They had no less than five ill-advised passes that either led straight to scoring chances or allowed Edmonton to keep the puck in the offensive zone. They missed on several breakout passes and pass attempts in neutral ice and were just off in every facet.

Although Jake Allen allowed two goals early, he settled down and made a couple of great saves to keep the game from getting out of hand. He was also aided twice by his posts.

St. Louis had one power play in the period when Darnell Nurse hooked Steen in the offensive zone, but despite some late pressure, the Blues weren’t able to get any shots on net. The Oilers thoroughly outplayed the Blues in the period and outshot them 13-3.

2nd period

Although the period got off to an inauspicious start when Carl Gunnarsson went off for holding, the Blues were a completely different team in the 2nd. They did an excellent job on the penalty kill and then went about the business of getting back in the game.

Jaden Schwartz had a partial break with about 10:30 left in the period, and although Mikko Koskinen made the save, the Blues got on the board 30 seconds later. After some extended pressure in the offensive zone, Zach Sanford sent the puck off the boards and up high to Alex Pietrangelo. Pietrangelo’s one-timer attempt was stopped, but David Perron was parked out front and backhanded the rebound past Koskinen from his knees.

The pressure from the Blues continued, as they dominated the last 1/2 of the period. Their overall play was much more determined and much crisper in all aspects. Things got a little chippy as well, with Vince Dunn and Jacob de la Rose each becoming involved in some minor scraps near the bench.

And while the Blues couldn’t get the equalizer, they had Edmonton on their heels and hoped to take that momentum into the 3rd. Shots after the 2nd had evened up a bit, with the Oilers holding a 21-16 advantage.

3rd period

The Blues did carry the momentum into the 3rd, tying the game at 2:12. After Robert Thomas hit the post, he went to the front and swiped the puck past Koskinen on a perfect pass from Tyler Bozak.

Leon Draisaitl gave the momentum back to the Oilers when he scored his 2nd goal of the night 2 minutes later. After the Blues won a faceoff in the offensive zone, the Oilers intercepted a pass and went the other way. Justin Faulk overcommitted on a double team of Kailer Yamamoto near the boards, and Yamamoto found Draisaitl breaking down the middle. Faulk couldn’t quite get over in time, and Draisaitl beat Allen glove side.

The Blues pressed for the rest of the period, but Edmonton did an excellent job on defense and did not give St. Louis much time or space. The Blues’ best chance came with 3 minutes left when Alex Chiasson tripped Ryan O’Reilly. Alex Pietrangelo fired a one-timer from out high, but Koskinen made the save through a screen.

With 1:45 left in the game and 45 seconds left in the power play, the Blues pulled Allen to have the six on four advantage. Unfortunately, that’s right around the time the Blues turned the puck over, giving Josh Archibald a wide-open empty-net goal to ice the game for the Oilers.

Notes

Connor McDavid was held in check, with no points and no serious scoring chances, but the other half of the dynamic duo- Leon Draisaitl- had two goals, including the game-winner.

The 1st period will go down as one of the Blues’ worst of the season. There were way too many ill-advised and just plain bad passes.

Up next:

The Blues stay in western Canada and wrap up their road trip when they visit Winnipeg early Saturday evening.

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