Oilers, Blues try to shake off struggles

NHL

The Edmonton Oilers will look to restore their defensive order Sunday when they visit the St. Louis Blues.

After starting the season 9-1-0, the Oilers have lost two of their last three games — including their 3-2 defeat at Buffalo on Friday. They outshot the Sabres 35-23 but yielded too many high-quality scoring chances.

“We allowed them to score easy goals and we chased the game the whole night,” Oilers coach Dave Tippett said. “We didn’t play very smart. “We gave them four breakaways and they scored on three of them. That’s not a recipe for success.

“It’s disappointing that we played the way we did and allowed them the opportunities they got. There was some effort there, but we just didn’t play very smart.”

Fatigue played a factor Friday as the Oilers played for the third time in four games.

“You get into a tough situation, whether you don’t have your legs that night or you’re not as good as you want to be, it’s still not an excuse for not winning,” Tippett said. “You have to have the mindset that you’ll do whatever it takes to win.”

The Blues fell 3-2 at Carolina on Saturday night for just their third regulation loss in 13 games. They must come right back Sunday and face the Oilers at home.

“Last two periods we played pretty well,” said Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko, who has scored in consecutive games after a five-game goal drought. “These are two big games for us, back-to-back against teams with one of the best records in the league. Obviously (you’re) upset when you lose, but they played well, and this is a quick turnaround to get ready for tomorrow.”

The Blues will play their seventh game in the last 12 days.

“It’s a long calendar year,” said winger David Perron. “For sure there’s going to be ups and downs. It’s the first time we play 82 games in the last three years really. Definitely a little bit more challenging for a lot of guys.”

Oilers superstar Connor McDavid will carry a season-opening 13-game point streak (nine goals, 16 assists) into this game. Forward Leon Draisaitl had this sixth two-goal game on Friday.

“We (face) two of the best players in the world,” Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo said. “Good challenge for us. It could be something our group needs right now.”

The Oilers will likely start goaltender Mikko Koskinen (8-1-0, 2.59 goals-against average) after playing rookie Stuart Skinner on Friday.

Edmonton forward Zack Kassian (lower-body injury) is questionable for this game while forward Devin Shore (lower-body injury) and goaltender Mike Smith (leg injury) remain sidelined by weeks-long injuries.

The Blues will likely start Jordan Binnington (6-2-2, 2.58 ERA) in goal after playing rookie Joel Hofer Saturday.

Blues forwards Oskar Sundqvist (knee surgery) and Brayden Schenn (upper-body injury) have been on injured reserve, and defensemen Torey Krug and Niko Mikkola and winger Kyle Clifford remain on the COVID-19 list.

–Field Level Media

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