(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jason Franson- The Canadian Press)
The St. Louis Blues added another W in the win column Saturday with a 2-1 road victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Paul Stastny had a big night for the Blues registering one goal and one assist to give the Blues a four-point cushion over the third place Chicago Blackhawks. With the Nashville Predators 4-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings St. Louis closes within five points as the season hits the home stretch.
Edmonton coming off a 2-1 win at Minnesota was dealt an early blow as right winger Iiro Pakarinen went down with an apparent knee injury and had to leave the game just 36 seconds into the first period.
St. Louis applied the pressure early and jumped on the board midway through the first period with a wrister off the blade of Dmitrij Jaskin. After a takeaway by Patrik Berglund Stastny found Jaskin on the wide side of the net to capitalize and give the Blues a 1-0 lead.
After a number of opportunities the Oilers responded with 6:30 remaining in the second period when Jordan Eberle connected with Justin Schultz, who snapped a shot past Brian Elliot to tie the game up at 1-1.
The Blues outshot the Oilers 27-22 on the game, but were outmanned physically as Edmonton registered 30 hits to St. Louis’ 19.
St. Louis came out firing in the third period as they ramped up the pressure on the offensive end. Ben Scrivens was having a quality night in net for the Oilers as he helped kill two power plays back to back. After Scrivens robbed Stastny glove side earlier in the game Stastny redeemed himself with backhander to give the Blues the 2-1 advantage.
Stastny was handed a two-minute penalty in the closing minutes for covering the puck, but Edmonton was unable to capitalize as St. Louis picked up another big two points.
The Blues responded well in Edmonton picking up a much-needed win to build on their victory in Winnipeg. It seems the frustrations with head coach Ken Hitchcock have subsided for now as we reach the final 20-game stretch of the season. St. Louis will need to turn up the heat even more these final games if they want to make a push at the division title.
It starts with the back line and the goal tending of Elliot. If the Blues want to make a run at the cup this year the physicality has to remain high and Elliot needs to be dominant. The front line needs to continue to work on generating chances and limit puck turnovers. St. Louis had 10 giveaways tonight and will need to keep that number low as they continue their road trip next in Vancouver tomorrow evening.
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