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Losing streak reaches 5 games
Blues

Losing streak reaches 5 games

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Sobotka challenges
Dec. 4, 2010 -- Edmonton Oilers' Ryan Whitney, left, defends goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, right, from St. Louis Blues' Vladmir Sobotka during first period NHL hockey action in Edmonton. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, John Ulan)

EDMONTON, Alberta • Entering Saturday's game against Edmonton on a four-game losing streak, the last scene the Blues wanted to witness at the end of a game was the opponent celebrating.

As it turned out, there was a worse scene.

Andy McDonald had to be helped of the ice after being inadvertently kneed in the head by Edmonton's Shawn Horcoff on the final sequence. After the turnover, the Oilers went the other way with the puck and Taylor Hall scored the winner 20 seconds into overtime for a 2-1 win over the Blues.

McDonald, who lost an edge as he prepared to skate into the offensive zone and collided with Horcoff, appeared to be OK in the Blues' locker room afterward. That was the good news for the team, but the bad news continued, as the losing streak stretched to five games.

"Andy caught a rut and got going on the wrong tracks, and the wrong guy (Hall) to give up the breakaway to in overtime," Blues coach Davis Payne said. "It's a step, but not the two points we were looking for."

By taking the game to OT, which they did with a late goal from defenseman Eric Brewer, the Blues earned their first point since Nov. 24.

The club will back on the ice tonight to wrap up their two-game trip to Western Canada when it faces the Vancouver Canucks.

It was a goaltenders' dual between the Blues' Jaroslav Halak and Edmonton's Nikolai Khabibulin on Saturday. In a game that was scoreless through two periods, Edmonton struck first in the third period.

The Oilers' Sam Gagner lobbed a pass into the offensive zone, where Magnus Paajarvi and Jones created a 2-on-1. With the Blues' Erik Johnson defending, Paajarvi waited the situation out and then dished left to Jones, who beat Halak for the ice-breaker.

The Blues were heavily outshooting the Oilers but fell behind 1-0 just 2:32 into the final period.

"We needed to score more goals when we had chances," Blues forward David Backes said. "Khabibulin is a good goalie, but enough of making excuses. We need to be better forwards and put the puck past the (goalie)."

The Blues looked as though they might take the loss with only one goal scored in the game. But with 6:27 remaining in regulation, Brewer, a former Oiler, tied the score 1-1 with his fourth goal of the season. Johnson assisted on the goal, drawing two Oilers to him before moving the puck to an open Brewer.

"I kind of drew Hall to the outside and spun to the middle and draw the other forward," Johnson said. "Then I slid it through his stick and just made a pass to ‘Brew,' who was streaking down the slot. It was a huge goal to tie the game and put us in position to win the hockey game."

That was the only offense in the game for two teams that managed only two power plays combined - one apiece.

The Blues came into Saturday's game in an 0-for-16 drought on the power play and they had only one opportunity with the man-advantage against the Oilers. That came in the second period, and while the Blues found some good looks, the drought stretched to 0-for-17.

The game went into overtime, and McDonald had some steam as he headed into the offensive zone.

After McDonald fell, Edmonton's Ryan Whitney sent the puck ahead to Hall, who on a breakaway beat Halak.

"I don't know if anyone catches him there at the end," Backes said. "He catches an edge, and falls or whatever. The next thing you know, they get a breakaway.

Game over.

"It wasn't enough tonight, but it was enough to get a point and that's a step in the right direction for us," Brewer said.

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