Preview: Blues at Oilers
The reigning Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues look to make it a little easier on themselves as they attempt to extend their winning streak to six games Wednesday night against the host Edmonton Oilers in a battle of the top two teams in the Western Conference. The Blues needed overtime to win four of the five games during their streak, including Tuesday when Jaden Schwartz scored 3:28 into overtime to knock off Vancouver 2-1.
St. Louis has won seven of eight since suffering through a four-game losing streak that included a loss in overtime and in a shootout, but has been clutch since with three victories on the road to take over the top spot in the West with 23 points. The Blues earned at least a point in all three meetings (2-0-1) last season, but will be playing a vastly improved Edmonton team that is allowing 2.5 goals per game - sixth in the league - after coughing up 3.30 in 2018-19, while its offense tries to get back in gear. “We’re keeping the puck out of our net and our goalies have been great,” Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse told the Edmonton Journal. “The goals will come. … When we were scoring at the beginning of the year, it wasn’t because we were opening up, it’s because we were checking well. We have to be patient.” The Oilers have points in three straight games after rookie Gaetan Haas scored his first NHL goal in the third period to tie Arizona on Monday before the Coyotes won 3-2 in overtime.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, FS Midwest (St. Louis), Sportsnet (Edmonton)
ABOUT THE BLUES (10-3-3): Center Ryan O’Reilly saw his four-game point streak come to an end Tuesday, but still leads the team with 16 - one more than fellow forwards David Perron and Brayden Schenn, who assisted on Schwartz’s winning goal. Center Tyler Bozak registered his first goal of the season Tuesday after posting 13 in his first season with St. Louis in 2018-19 while veteran forward Alex Steen notched his first point in four games (assist). Jordan Binnington (8-2-3) turned aside 33 shots against Vancouver and Jake Allen (2-1-0, .855 save percentage) is likely to get the start versus Edmonton.
ABOUT THE OILERS (10-4-2): Leon Draisaitl trails only two players (Boston’s David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand) in the NHL points race with 27 after recording at least one in six straight games and scoring seven times during that span. Draisaitl’s linemate Connor McDavid recorded his seventh goal Monday and boasts 24 points while James Neal has scored 11 times after managing seven over 63 games with Calgary last season. Goalies Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen entered Tuesday seventh in the league with a .919 save percentage, a big improvement over the team’s .896 SP (27th) last season.
1. Edmonton D Matt Benning recorded assists in each of the last two games and is second on the team with a plus-9 rating overall.
2. St. Louis D Alex Pietrangelo assisted on the winning goal Tuesday and boasts five points in his last five games.
3. The Oilers are 2-of-23 on the power play since going 10-of-22 with the man advantage in the season’s first seven contests.
PREDICTION: Blues 3, Oilers 2