Oilers attempt to finish off road sweep against Blues
OILERS (14-13-4) at BLUES (13-11-5)
Last 10 --
Edmonton 6-3-1; St. Louis 6-3-1
Season series --
This is the first meeting between the clubs this season. The Oilers are 7-1-0 against the Blues over the past two campaigns, including four straight victories in 2008-09.
Big Story --
The Oilers are regaining their health -- forwards Robert Nilsson and Ryan Stone have returned from ailments -- but goalie Nikolai Khabibulin has been suffering from a tweaked back since Nov. 21. Oilers GM Steve Tambellini confirmed that his goalie was "maybe 25 percent better" on Tuesday.
"He's taken some treatment with our doctors back in Edmonton," Tambellini said. "(He) really hasn't got to the point yet where we can say he's 100 percent ready to go start the kind of training needed to play at this level. So I guess we'll know better after a week where he's at, but at this point I'd say it's kind of slow."
Despite losing forward Ales Hemsky to a season-ending shoulder injury and goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin to a bad back, the Oilers opened their five-game road trip with victories over Detroit, 4-1, Dallas, 3-2, Florida, 3-2, and Tampa Bay, 3-2. The four-game winning streak is their longest of the season.
"Nobody is folding the tent," Souray said. "We certainly haven't played to the level we'd expect, but we've seen a lot of encouraging things over the last two games."
You have to wonder if Scottrade Center is really a home ice advantage for St. Louis. The club is 4-9-2 at home this season and 8-2-3 on the road. On top of that, the Blues' penalty-killing unit hasn't allowed a goal over it last 27 consecutive man disadvantages on the road spanning five games.
The club is coming off a 1-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday behind the 42-save performance by former Wings goalie Ty Conklin
. The shutout was Conklin's third straight win, his second shutout of the season and the 12th of his career.
"For some reason, we just haven't been able to get it done at home," defenseman Erik Johnson
said. "You have to at least be .500 at home to be a playoff team. Your home record has to be your bread and butter. You have to take pride in your home record. For whatever reason, we just haven't gotten it done."
Who's Hot --
Edmonton goalie Jeff Deslauriers is 4-0 on the road trip and has stopped 125 of 137 shots in the absence of injured starter Khabibulin. Oilers defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky has 2 goals and 4 points and a plus-4 rating in the last four wins.
Injury Report --
Edmonton forwards Marc Pouliot (sports hernia), Fernando Pisani (colitis), Mike Comrie
(mononucleosis) and defensemen Taylor Chorney (ankle) are out, wing Ales Hemskey (shoulder) is out for the season and defenseman Denis Grebeshkov (knee) and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (back) are day-to-day. … Blues defenseman Eric Brewer
(back) and forward D.J. King
(hand) are out.
Stat Pack --
The Blues are 9-0-3 when leading after two periods and 11-0-1 when scoring three or more goals. … Edmonton's Patrick O'Sullivan has been one of the Oilers' go-to guys in the shootout and is tied for first in the NHL with 4 shootout goals on 8 chances this season.
Puck Drop --
The Oilers have a chance to win their fifth straight on the road following a 7-3 setback in Vancouver on Nov. 28. The Oilers are tied with Vancouver for 11th in the Western Conference with 32 points.