Edmonton Oilers return to action with muffled loss to Blues

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Falling behind early is a familiar scenario for Edmonton, but as has been the case so many times this season, they’ve found a way back. For a moment

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With nine different players on the roster since the Edmonton Oilers played in a game 11 days ago, including a goalie making his first start since October 19, you really didn’t know what to expect when the puck fell on Wednesday night in St. Louis.

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OK, considering how it’s been this season, you’d expect a first goal against and a 1-0 delay. It happened. But then came 56 minutes of pure mystery.

Unfortunately for the Oilers, responses weren’t so flattering as they thudded back into action, relinquishing a 4-2 decision at the Enterprise Center.

“We made a few mistakes at the start and got behind and got on with the game,” said head coach Dave Tippett. “We rounded a bit, but we returned a lot of pucks and ended up chasing after.

“When you’ve been on leave for 11 days, it’s not an ideal situation. Your puck game gets more complicated because you try to get back into the game.

The start of a five-game trip and the resumption of a season interrupted by COVID-19 protocols started badly (0-2), showed promise in the middle (2-2) and then faded late as Saint-Louis walked away with two goals in stride.

“Overall, we just gave them too many opportunities,” said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. “You give them so much weird rush, let the guys go two-on-none, two-on-one, breakaways, good teams like that are going to make you pay. “

It wasn’t a good start for defenseman Dmitry Samorukov, who made his NHL debut on Wednesday. He got a turnstile on Robert Thomas’ 1-0 goal at 4:03 after Evan Bouchard returned him to the St. Louis blue line.

Then he walked again when Jordan Kyrou made it 2-0 three minutes later. He was minus-2 after four shifts and 2:28 and hasn’t seen the ice again.

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“Young Sammy got off to a rough start,” Tippett said. “So Jimmy (Playfair, who runs the blue line) decided to go down to five (defenders).”

Falling behind early is a familiar scenario for Edmonton (this was the eighth time in the last nine games that they were 1-0 behind), but as has been the case so many times this season, they found a way to go back. For a moment.

Leon Draisaitl started the comeback 32 seconds after St. Louis made it 2-0 and Bouchard tied it at 11:49 in the second period.

Draisaitl’s goal and McDavid’s assist on Bouchard’s goal each gave them 50 points in 30 games (the third time for McDavid, the second time for Draisaitl). Only three other players have done so since 2000: Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby and Peter Forsberg.

But that didn’t impress Vladimir Tarasenko much, as he added a goal late in the second period on top of his two assists to bring the Blues to 3-2 in the second intermission.

“We hung out,” Tippett said. “But we made too many mistakes to get it back to where we needed it.”

Before the Oilers could initiate another comeback, the Blues put them to the ground for good, scoring on a power play 16 seconds into the third period.

It is their seventh loss in the last nine games after a brief two-game winning streak against Columbus and Seattle that followed a six-game slide. They looked rusty and cranky, but have no one else to blame but themselves.

“It’s not much of an excuse,” Bouchard said of the 11-day break. “They had the same break as us. We have to put this one behind us, take it as a learning step and go from there. “

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It was a sloppy night on many fronts, something Nugent-Hopkins says they need to fix to avoid another long slip.

“You take a road trip like this and the simplicity goes a long way,” he said. “We used to do it sometimes, putting pucks behind them and failing before, we just didn’t do it often enough.

“It has to be something that is ingrained in us. This is how you build forward chess and team play and tonight it wasn’t there for us. ”

A LONG WAIT

Mike Smith finally hit the net after a long fight with a nagging ankle injury.

He found himself on his own at first, giving up the 1-0 goal on one to two against none and the second on a breakaway (two goals on four shots), but had a good evening overall, stopping 29 of 33 shots.

The Oilers also added Zach Hyman to the squad after injuring his shoulder on December 11. He should have missed seven games, but it only worked for three due to protocol cancellations.

“It’s hard to replace guys like that,” Draisaitl said. “He plays in our top six, he plays in all situations, on the power play, on the penalty kill. He’s an attacking guy but he’s playing the right way, very hard. These guys are almost impossible to replace.

ALWAYS SITTING

Zach Kassian, Darnell Nurse, Jesse Puljujarvi and William Lagesson remain missing due to NHL COVID-19 protocols. Returning from protocol, Ryan McLeod, Devin Shore, Duncan Keith and head coach Dave Tippett.

Puljujarvi, Nurse and Lagesson plan to train with the team on Thursday.

Late shots: The Oilers sent G Stuart Skinner to Bakersfield, Calif., Put Filip Broberg on the cab squad and recalled G Ilya Konovalov from the cab squad as third goalie insurance.

Email: [email protected]

On Twitter: @Rob_Tychkowski

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