McDonald leads Blues to 5-2 win against Oilers
Thursday, March 1, 2012
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — The St. Louis Blues have found their road game just in time to make a run at the league leaders.
Andy McDonald scored twice and Kevin Shattenkirk had a goal and two assists as the St. Louis Blues defeated the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 on Wednesday night.
St. Louis moved into a tie with the Detroit Red Wings atop the Central Division with 87 points and a point back of the Vancouver Canucks for the overall league lead. The Blues play at Vancouver on Thursday.
“You have to be able to win on the road to be successful,” McDonald said of the Blues improving to 14-13-3 in away games versus the team’s impressive 26-4-4 home record. “We know it is going to be tough every night and that we have to play a certain way and on this road trip especially we have stuck to that style.
“It’s really paid off for us. Things are going well for us.”
Scott Nichol and Chris Stewart also scored for the Blues, who have won four straight on a six-game road trip. St. Louis has won 10 of its last 13 games.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said his team responded well to a pretty good push from the Oilers in the second period.
“We had a little meeting after the second period and were able to come back and take it over again,” he said. “We are still a young team that can learn some lessons. The way we played except for five minutes in the second period was terrific and the way we played in the third was excellent.
“We put the foot on the gas again in the third period.”
Corey Potter and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored for the Oilers, who have lost two of their last three to remain in second-last in the NHL.
“We certainly pushed our way back in the game and good for us,” said Oilers coach Tom Renney. “But there are two levels of teams out there, St. Louis and then there is us. We did everything we could to latch on to where they were headed and play with them and we came awfully close but then I thought we beat ourselves.”
Down 3-0, the Oilers were able to pull to within one in the game.
“We had a rough start,” Edmonton defenseman Ryan Whitney said. “You give up three to that team and you’re not going to get four goals. They hardly ever give up three.”
It took 59 seconds for the Blues to get on the board as Edmonton’s Cam Barker was caught pinching, allowing McDonald to come down the right side and score his fourth of the season, stick-side past Devan Dubnyk.
The Blues went up 2-0 two minutes into the second period as Nichol picked the bottom corner on a long shot off the right wing that closely resembled their first goal of the game.
Five minutes later, St. Louis had a three-goal edge as T.J. Oshie made a nice feed in front to McDonald, who deked past Edmonton’s defense to get in tight and beat Dubnyk for his second of the game.
The Oilers yanked Dubnyk after allowing three goals on 19 shots.
Yann Danis came in to replace Dubnyk with Nikolai Khabibulin, Edmonton’s regular starter, out with a groin injury.
The move seemed to spark the Oilers as they scored just over a minute later when Potter moved in from the point and stepped into a bullet of a shot that blew past Halak to make it 3-1.
Edmonton blitzed Halak for a brief period as Jeff Petry sent a shot off the goalie’s mask and Nugent-Hopkins clanged one off the post before Ryan Smyth was assessed a five-minute major for checking Roman Polak into the boards headfirst.
The Oilers were able to kill the penalty without allowing a shot and came right back to pull to within a goal as Hall raced to a loose puck to set up Nugent-Hopkins at the side of the net.
It was the 15th of the season for the Edmonton rookie, the first overall pick in the 2011 NHL draft.
Danis did not face a shot in the more than 12 minutes he was in net in the second period.
The Blues finally got some shots again early in the third and got one past Denis on the power play three-and-a-half minutes in. Alex Pietrangelo made a perfect pass to allow Shattenkirk to deflect the puck in for a 4-2 St. Louis lead.
They would make it 5-2 after Stewart was awarded a penalty shot after being hooked on a breakaway attempt by Hall eight minutes into the third. Stewart tucked his 14th of the season between Danis’ skate and the post.
“We have four wins on the road on this trip already which is pretty good,” Hitchcock said. “We’re in the bonus round. We play our best hockey when we are a bit scared and I think we will be a little bit for that game.”
Notes: It was the fourth and final meeting between the two teams this season. Edmonton won their previous home game 4-2 over the Blues in October. St. Louis then won both of its home dates with the Oilers by one-goal margins. ... Defenseman Nick Schultz made his debut for the Oilers after being acquired at the trade deadline for fellow blueliner Tom Gilbert. He earned an assist on the Nugent-Hopkins goal... The Blues have played well without four key players. F Jamie Langenbrunner is out with a broken foot and Kris Russell, Matt D’Agostini and Alexander Steen are all on injured reserve with concussions.
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