Blues bid for sweep of homestand, host McDavid, Oilers

NHL Hockey

The St. Louis Blues will try to complete a four-game sweep of their homestand on Wednesday when they host the Edmonton Oilers.

The Blues defeated the Vegas Golden Knights, Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche during their previous three games to retain the top spot in the Western Conference.

Last December, they were sinking into the NHL cellar.

“Yeah, we’ve put ourselves in a good spot, right?” Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo said. “Last year, we just weren’t finding ways to win games. This year we are.”

The Blues beat the Avalanche 5-2 on Monday night after reversing the game’s momentum with power-play goals from David Perron and Vince Dunn during a four-minute opportunity in the second period.

That ended their 0-for-15 drought with the man advantage.

“When the power play is at least doing the right things and getting shots to the net, that sets up the next line that’s coming out,” Dunn told reporters. “As much as possible we want to score, but most importantly, we want to create momentum and I think we did a great job for our team in that second period leading into the third.”

The Oilers snapped a four-game losing streak Monday night with a 2-1 road victory over the Dallas Stars.

After allowing 19 goals during their four-game downturn, the Oilers tightened their team defense. They also received strong goaltending from Mikko Koskinen, who made 34 saves.

Looking to re-establish his preferred team identity, coach Dave Tippett spread top forwards Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins over three lines.

“Our guys were really focused [Monday],” Tippett said. “Even at the morning skate you could tell there was a real businesslike approach to it. So as a coaching staff we kind of let them do their thing [Monday]. We talked a little, but it was mostly those leaders in that room who said, ‘We’re going to get the job done tonight.’

“We did a lot of things that are what we’d like our identity to be. A real team effort not just waiting for a couple of guys to score. It was right through the group. Everyone pulled their load and Koskinen was good in goal. That’s going to be the formula we need to use if we want to be successful.”

The Oilers bring a 11-7-1 road record into Enterprise Center to face the Blues. Last season, they finished 17-19-5 away from home.

“It kind of feels like we’re playing the game the right way,” forward Alex Chiasson told NHL.com. “We respect our opponent, we play a solid 60 minutes, and it’s been good for us.”

In the only previous game this season between these teams, the Blues beat the Oilers 5-2 on Nov. 6 in Edmonton. Backup goaltender Jake Allen stopped 32 of 34 shots and Pietrangelo (goal, two assists) and winger Jaden Schwartz (goal, assist) paced the offense.

McDavid scored one goal and assisted on the other in that game for the Oilers. But he has enjoyed just middling career success against the Blues: three goals, eight assists and a minus-7 rating in 13 games.

Forward Ivan Barbashev (upper body) remains sidelined and day-to-day for the Blues. He and defenseman Carl Gunnarsson could return soon while forwards Sammy Blais (wrist surgery) and Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder surgery) are out longer term.

The Oilers are still missing defenseman Matt Benning (concussion).

–Field Level Media

–Field Level Media

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