EDMONTON, Alberta — The Blues’ tour of the Pacific Division elite continued Wednesday. Plus their tour of ice rinks named “Rogers.”
After a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory at Rogers Arena on Tuesday over Vancouver, which is second in the Pacific, the Blues took on Pacific-leading Edmonton at Rogers Place.
Different team, different venue. Same result. The Blues stretched their winning streak to six games with a 5-2 victory over the Oilers, who — stop if you’ve heard this before — viewed the contest as a measuring stick for their progress.
For his part, coach Craig Berube did not view the back-to-back victories over two of the Best in the West as any kind of measuring stick in early November.
“It’s just another game,” Berube said. “We got a lot of games ahead of us. Lot of hockey.”
St. Louis improved to 11-3-3, continuing to sit atop the Western Conference. The Oilers fell to 10-5-2.
It’s the longest winning streak for the Blues since their franchise-record 11-game streak last January and February sent them on the way to the playoffs and the Stanley Cup. So far this season the Blues still haven’t lost in regulation to a Western Conference team — they are 7-0-1 against that half of the league.
• BOX SCORE: Blues 5, Oilers 2
On a night the Blues traded Robby Fabbri to Detroit, they lost veteran forward and alternate captain Alexander Steen to a left leg injury
Steen had to be helped off the ice favoring the leg in the closing seconds of the second period. The injury occurred during an incidental collision with the Oilers’ Alex Chiasson. It was the 727th Blues game for Steen, tying him with David Backes for fifth on the team’s career list.
As usual, Berube offered no details or prognosis on the injury, simply saying: “We’ll check him out tomorrow.”
The game was closer — much, much closer than the final score indicated. Power-play goals by Jaden Schwartz and Alex Pietrangelo, plus and even-strength score by Robert Thomas, staked St. Louis to a 3-1 lead entering the third period.
The Blues seemed to be in total control and the crowd at Rogers (of Edmonton) was cathedral-quiet.
That all changed when Zach Kassian got one past Jake Allen, high and farside, with 8 minutes 58 seconds left to play, narrowing the Blues’ lead to 3-2. It would be yet another tight finish.
With 2:28 to play, Brayden Schenn was whistled for delay of game when his clearing attempt in his own zone sailed over the glass. That sent out Connor McDavid, who scored the game’s first goal, and Edmonton’s third-ranked power play.
The 5-on-4 became a 6-on-4 when Oilers goalie Mike Smith was pulled with about 2 minutes left. But the Blues got not one, but two empty-net goals in the final 59 seconds. The first came on an improbable diving clearing shot by Tyler Bozak.
Three-fourths of the way down the ice, it appeared to be heading well wide of the empty, but the bouncing puck took an impromptu turn to the right and went into the net, giving the Blues a 4-2 lead and a chance to exhale.
Talk about the bounces going your way. Bozak, who fancies himself as a good golfer, maintained he put some English on the puck, resulting in the change of direction.
“I’ve been working on that one in the summer every year,” Bozak joked.
Ivan Barbashev then added another empty-netter, with just 33 seconds left to play for his first goal of the season.
Allen, making only his fourth start of the season but his second in four days, played what was easily his best game of the season, stopping 32 of 34 shots and robbing McDavid and Alex Chiasson among others.
“He had a really strong game,” Berube said. “They made a good push in the third, he made some big saves. . . . When you’re not playing and in a rhythm, it’s hard. But he’s battled and got wins the last two games.”
Allen said: “I felt like I’ve been getting better every game. And that’s sort of the goal at the start of the year. I felt a lot more comfortable. It was good to get a lot of action, and obviously the win. Guys battled hard. It was a tough back-to-back.”
But the Blues are now 3-0 in the second game of back-to-backs, continuing a trend from recent seasons.
“I was impressed with our energy tonight, “ Berube said. “I thought we had really good puck movement in the first period. We roll everybody and use everybody in our lineup, and I think that really has a lot to do with (success in) back-to-back games.
“We’re fresh, or fresher than we could be, and I thought our guys played smart.”
The Blues were so good throughout the night on the penalty kill Tuesday in Vancouver. On Wednesday in Edmonton — not so good. At least that was the case at the outset.
It’s never a good idea to put the Oilers’ potent power play to work, but that’s what the Blues did just 1:55 into the contest when Robert Thomas was whistled for holding defenseman Brandon Manning.
Fifty-one seconds later, the great McDavid got behind the St. Louis defense and whistled one past Jake Allen through the 5-hole for his eighth goal of the season. We know what you’re thinking. Why would you let McDavid get behind you, especially on the power play?
But that’s what happened as both Blues defensemen on the ice at the time — Pietrangelo and Justin Faulk — got caught puck-watching and creeping away from the St. Louis net.
On this night, it turned out not to be a fatal error.