The game featured 2 of the top penalty killing teams in the league against the 2 worst power plays the NHL has to offer.
The Oilers benched Jarret Stoll and Raffi Torres tonight because of their poor play lately and inserted Liam Reddox and Patrick Thoresen into the line-up.
Mathieu Garon and Hannu Toivonen were the starting goaltenders.
The first shot of the game came with 1:20 gone as Lee Stempniak snapped a wrist shot that Garon easily handled.
With two minutes gone, Liam Reddox got a chance on his first NHL shift as he took a centering pass from Thoresen and his backhand shot was saved by Toivonen. The Oiler’s top line then continued the pressure and Jay McClement was called for hooking. The power play did very little but move the puck around the perimeter and only had one shot.
With just over six minutes gone, Shawn Horcoff broke in on the right wing and ripped a shot that beat Toivonen but not the post.
The next four minutes saw the teams exchanging end to end action. Finally the Blues broke out with Alan Rourke caught out of position and a shot by Stempniak is saved by Garon but the rebound was fired in by Brad Boyes. 1-0 Blues at 10:40.
The Oilers then had a good chance to tie the game as Bryce Salvador was called for hooking Ales Hemsky. The teams exchanged scoring chances on the Oiler power play with St. Louis getting the better of the chances. That is the result of the top penalty killing versus the worst power play. Again the Blues were able to kill the penalty.
The Oilers had their best chance of the period with 5 minutes left as a shot from Tom Gilbert left a juicy rebound for Sam Gagner but his stick exploded as he was about to take a shot. The Oilers continued to control the puck and finally were rewarded with just over a minute remaining. It was Ales Hemsky controlling the puck and beating several Blues defenders and his no-look pass found Horcoff off to the right side for a one-timer. 1-1 at 18:41. Toivonen was still looking for the puck after it was already in.
The final minute saw the Oilers with one more chance as Kyle Brodziak ripped a shot wide. The period finished tied at one. The shots in the period favored the Oilers 14-6.
The Blues started the second period with some pressure and were rewarded at 1:02 with an early power play as Garon was called for holding the stick of Boyes. Dustin Penner served the penalty for Garon. The Blues had a couple of good shots on their power play but the Oilers were able to kill the penalty off.
The Blues came close to grabbing the lead with just over 3 minutes gone as Rourke had his pocket picked by McClement and his shot was kicked away by Garon.
The Oiler’s top line then came back with some great pressure and were able to get some bodies changed with the Blues defenders tiring. All the puck possession finally resulted in Eric Brewer being called for holding on Reddox.
The Oilers had all sorts of pressure during their power play with Nilsson and Cogliano coming close. Nilsson was then cross-checked to the ice but no call was made. I am not sure what the officials were looking at on that play. The Blues were able to kill off their third penalty as the league’s worst power play again failed to find the net.
The Blues had their best chance to that point of the period with nine minutes gone as Keith Tkachuk had a chance on a rebound of a Stempniak shot. Garon was able to make the save and corral the rebound.
The teams then spent a couple of minutes exchanging the puck as both teams got scrambled with their play. The Blues then had 3 good minutes of sustained pressure and it resulted in Marty Reasoner being called for holding. It was a rather weak call as Reasoner barely even touched the Blue’s player.
The Blues had some good chances on their power play as Eric Johnson rang a shot off the post. They had 2 other good shots but couldn’t beat Garon.
After the penalty was over the Blue’s David Backes took a run at Steve Staios in front of the Blues bench and it brought the players of both teams together for some pushing and shoving. No penalties were called after that skirmish.
The Blues continued to control the play in the period with the Oilers hemmed in their zone for the majority of it. Finally Cogliano and Brodziak had a chance but the puck bounced as Cogliano tried to pull the trigger from the slot and it rolled harmlessly into Toivonen. The Oilers had gone almost 6 minutes between shots.
The period finished with no damage by either team as it finished the way it started, tied at 1. The Blues outshot the Oilers in the period 12-5.
The Oilers started the third period with some good play by Pisani and he draws a penalty at :38 as Doug Weight is called for hooking. The power play for the Oilers started out of sync as the team could not seem to get anything going. The power play finished with nothing and it looked like the league’s worst power play. They had no set-up time in the Blues zone trough the entire power play.
The Blues came back down the ice after killing the penalty and Tom Gilbert was called for high sticking on Paul Kariya at 2:50. It only took the Blues 22 seconds as they gained the zone and with several good passes found Brad Boyes open and his one-timer blew by Garon. 2-1 Blues at 3:12.
For the second game in a row, the third period collapse continued as 54 seconds after the last goal, Doug Weight’s centering pass goes off the skate of Gilbert and behind Garon. 3-1 Blues at 4:06. This is the same thing that happened on Wednesday against the Penguins.
The Oilers then got an opportunity to close the gap as Pisani was tripped by Barrett Jackman. The Oilers did a better job on this power play controlling the puck in the Blue’s zone but were unable to generate anything close to a goal. As the power play expired, Sam Gagner went end to end and his shot gave Toivonen some troubles as he left a nice rebound in the crease but there was no Oiler close to bang it in.
The teams exchanged some end to end action until 9:52 when Thoresen was called for hooking which gave the Blues their fourth power play of the game. Unlike their last power play, the Blues were unable to control the Oiler’s zone for any period of time and the Oilers were able to kill it off.
The Oilers came back immediately with good pressure. Nilsson stole the puck in the Blue’s zone and he fed Gagner out on the right side and the return pass was blasted by Toivonen. 3-2 Blues at 12:16
The Oilers continued with the pressure after the goal and Penner set up Reasoner in close but Toivonen made a big save. The Blues won the face-off and went right back down the ice with Tkachuk trying to stickhandle through the two Oiler defensemen but he ended up losing the puck in front of the Oiler net. Paul Kariya was Johnny-on-the-spot as he grabbed the loose puck and tucked it behind Garon. 4-2 Blues at 14:15.
Less than a minute after the goal, Fernando Pisani was called for hooking. The penalty at that time virtually sealed the fate for the Oilers unless they found something short-handed. The Oilers did a good job killing the penalty and with 30 seconds left, Cogliano broke out of the Oiler zone and took a glove in the face from Erik Johnson which ended the Blues power play.
After 30 seconds of four on four the Oiler power play went to work. They pulled Garon making it a six on four. The Oilers controlled the Blue’s zone during the 1:30 power play but they were unable to get any shots through on net. The Blues did another masterful job of killing the penalty. The Oilers were now 0/6 with the power play and their lack of scoring on the power play has cost them some games this year.
The Oilers continued the pressure with their net empty and with 38 seconds to go they were rewarded as Marty Reasoner banged a Horcoff centering pass behind Toivonen. 4-3 Blues at 19:22.
The Oilers came right back off the face-off and had some incredible pressure including a blast by Tom Gilbert with 18 seconds left that skinned the outside of the post. The Oilers did everything they could but ran out of time and the game ended with a 4-3 Blues victory.
The Oilers lost tonight because they forgot to show up for large chunks of the third period. Like the last game against the Penguins, the Oilers seemed to lose their focus as a team in the third period. For the second straight game the Oilers gave up at least 3 goals in the third period. You are not going to win many games when you give up 3 goals in the third period. The Oilers now travel to Dallas to face the Stars on Monday. The Oilers will need to smarten up as Dallas is a place the Oilers never play good.