Oilers Throttle Blues 6-4 with Four Power-Play Goals

By Rutherford, Jeremy | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), March 17, 2016 | Go to article overview

Oilers Throttle Blues 6-4 with Four Power-Play Goals


Rutherford, Jeremy, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


EDMONTON, Alberta * The Blues went north and their game has gone south.

After a week that ended with a victory in Dallas, running the club's winning streak to six games, the Blues traveled to Canada to face the two teams sitting in the bottom of the Western Conference in back-to-back games.

A lopsided loss to Calgary triggered some alarms, and those that weren't set off certainly will be after Wednesday's 6-4 loss to Edmonton. Another late rally by the Blues, with third-period goals from David Backes and Patrik Berglund, wasn't enough before Mark Letestu added an empty-netter.

The Oilers scored four of their six goals on the power play, as the NHL's No. 26-ranked unit on the man-advantage had its way with the league's No. 2 penalty-killing group. It marked the most power- play goals the Blues have given up in a game in 10 years since Nov. 26, 2006, against these same Oilers.

"When we take penalties that we need to take because we're denying scoring chances or are in desperation, we normally pick each other up and kill those off," Backes said. "Today we took penalties that were less than disciplined and they made us pay time and time again."

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins led the way with two of Edmonton's power- play goals. Leon Draisaitl scored two, but only one counted, as the Blues challenged his first for offsides and won. Letestu also had a power-play goal for the Oilers, who had had a total of four power- play goals in their last 17 games combined.

The challenge, however, would be the only victory Wednesday for the Blues, whose second straight loss kept them at 91 points. They once again lost a chance to claim sole possession of first place in the Western Conference over Dallas, which was idle, and put some distance between them and Chicago in the Central Division, as the Blackhawks fell for the fourth straight game.

"I think we're looking at the opponent, that's the problem," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We're looking at the opponent and not looking at ourselves, and that's what we've got to change. That's the No. 1 thing. It's about us at this time of year, it's not the opponent. We've been really guilty of that, and that's unfortunate."

The Blues have been spoiled by a penalty-killing unit that has been among the best in the league this season. But it has hit hard times of late, coming into Wednesday's game having allowed a power- play goal in four straight games.

The team didn't do itself any favors in trying to snap that streak Wednesday, committing six minors, including four in the second period, and a major late in the game. Edmonton scored on three of its four second-period power plays, opening a 5-2 lead after the Blues had tied the score 2-2.

It began with a delay-of-game penalty against Kyle Brodziak that led to Letestu's goal for a 3-2 Oilers lead with 12:18 left in the second period.

It continued with a holding-the-stick call against Jaden Schwartz, who was in the box when Draisaitl scored not once but twice on the same power play. …

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