The St. Louis Blues beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 Friday night at Scottrade Center, bouncing back from an ugly shutout loss to the Blackhawks. Before the end of the 1st period it looked like the Blues might be doomed to lose another home game as they fell behind 2-0, but Jaden Schwartz, Kevin Shattenkirk, Vladimir Sobotka, and David Backes went on to score consecutive goals and the Blues made it a comeback victory. Jaroslav Halak made 17 saves to preserve the win.
The Blues showed a marked improvement over their previous game, the aforementioned loss to Chicago, by coming out strong on the puck and playing their very tight defensive style of hockey, for about 17 minutes. Sadly, they seemed to stop backchecking, stop making clean passes to clear the puck and started allowing Edmonton to get behind their defense at that point, almost as if they just ran out of gas. The Oilers scored 2 goals in 23 seconds at the end of the 1st period to take a 2-0 lead into the break. After a promising start, it looked like the same old story at home for St. Louis this season, and the boo birds were out, justifiably so.
Schwartz finally got the Blues on the board at 3:38 of the 2nd period, following up a play he started with some tight backchecking and good defense. TJ Oshie sent a shot rebounding off Edmonton’s Devan Dubnyk that Schwarzt banged home for his second goal of the year, cutting the Oiler lead in half.
St. Louis looked much more focused in the 2nd frame, winning battles along the boards, backing up their teammates and out shooting Edmonton 11-4. After failing on their first power-play of the game, Shattenkirk finally broke their man-advantage scoring drought (0 for their previous 14 chance) with a goal, tipped in off a defenseman, at 10:30, tying the game and bring the Scottrade Center crowd back to life.
The Blues dominated the rest of the game, out shooting Edmonton 11-6 in the 3rd period and 30-17 for the game. They turned up the pressure even further on the Oilers at 4:28 when Sobotka swooped out from behind the net with a wrist shot, giving St. Louis their first lead since February 23 against the Blue Jackets.
The pace was fast and furious up and down the ice for both clubs, but the Blues solidified their defensive holes and allowed Edmonton very few decent scoring chances. Captain Backes put the final touch on the win with a goal on a flat-out brilliant, highlight reel play by Oshie at 14:37. Oshie managed to elude two Edmonton defenders, juking around Ladislav Smid then feathering a one-handed pass under the sprawling Jeff Petry to Backes who rattled on in off the near post, giving the Blues a 4-2 lead.
The win saw Schwartz skating on the top line with Backes and Oshie and it really paid off. Schwartz has been the team’s best forward, in my opinion, over the last two games and rightfully earned the No. 1 star Friday night. I’ve said he’ll need to step up his game with all of the injuries the Blues have incurred lately, and he looks ready to do it. St. Louis also got it’s first look this season at winger Adam Cracknell, the big 6’2″, 210 pound captain of the Peoria Rivermen, and he was solid, assisting on Sobie’s game-winning goal and getting the most out of every shift. The 4th line logged only about 10 minutes of ice Friday night, but they made their presence felt in the win.
It was the kind of come-from-behind victory St. Louis had to have after getting blanked the night before. The team has consistently said they know they need to play better, they need to play for a full 60 minutes, and they managed to recover from about 3 minutes of shoddy play to win at home for just the 5th time this season. A much needed charge as they prepared to go on an extensive road trip, starting tonight in Dallas.
GO BLUES! Long Live the Note!