Thursday, February 28, 2013

{allcanada} Photos: Maggie Grace attends "The Revisionist" opening night at Cherry Lane Theatre on February 28, 2013 in New York City

{allcanada} Oilers-Blues Preview 4/1/13 

It took a game against the NHL's worst team last week for the St. Louis Blues to avoid their longest home losing streak in six seasons.

Maybe a visit by the Edmonton Oilers can help the Blues protect their home ice.

Coming off its first home shutout loss in two seasons, St. Louis goes for a sixth straight victory with the Oilers in town on Friday night when these clubs open their season series.

St. Louis (10-7-2) held a 14-4 scoring edge while winning its first three home games, but it followed with an 0-4-1 skid against road teams that ended with Saturday's 2-1 victory over Columbus.

The well-rested Blues couldn't build on that on Thursday, losing 3-0 to Chicago, which ran its NHL-record season-opening point streak to 20.

It was the first time St. Louis didn't score at home since a 6-0 loss to Calgary on March 1, 2011. The Blues have found the back of the net three times while losing three of four, so they can't afford to give up another early goal after falling behind just 12 seconds into Thursday's game.

"We've got to improve that," captain David Backes told the Blues' official website. "That's on our shoulders."

The Blues, who open a five-game trip Sunday against Dallas, also need to start capitalizing on the power play. They've failed in all 13 chances over the last five games after converting 12 of 32 times in the previous eight contests.

Alex Steen, tied for second on the club with seven power-play points, is day-to-day after missing Thursday's game with an upper-body injury, but Andy McDonald won't be able to help after being placed on injured reserve with a knee injury. Both players were hurt in Tuesday's practice.

The Blues, though, are 9-1-1 in their last 11 against Edmonton (8-7-4) after winning three of four last season.

The Oilers' last victory in St. Louis was 5-3 on Dec. 11, 2009.

Edmonton, though, arrives on the heels of Thursday's 5-1 victory over Dallas that helped the club improve to 1-1-0 on a franchise-record nine-game trip.

"It's a good feeling here tonight, and we just gotta keep those same habits and keep it rolling," said Sam Gagner, who scored 1:13 into the game to increase his team-high point total to 19.

Edmonton won a season-best two straight from Jan. 28-30.

The Oilers, though, could equal that with another solid effort in net from Devan Dubnyk, who made 33 saves on Thursday in his first action in a week after Nikolai Khabibulin (groin) was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday.

Dubnyk, though, has a 4.83 goals-against average while losing all six starts versus St. Louis.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Brian Elliott, who hasn't played since losing his fifth consecutive start on Feb. 11, would start either Friday or Sunday. If it's Friday, it will be Elliott's first game against Edmonton in two seasons.

Jaroslav Halak was in net for each meeting in 2011-12. He turned aside 66 of 71 shots to help St. Louis win the last three.

Edmonton's Taylor Hall, who had an assist Thursday after serving a two-game suspension for kneeing Minnesota's Cal Clutterbuck last week, tied Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with a team-best three points against the Blues in 2011-12.

Backes and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo each had five points to pace St. Louis.

Team Comparison

Team G W L OTL Pts Standings GF GA Road/Home
St. Louis 19 10 7 2 22 4th Central 55 55 4-5-1 Home
Edmonton 19 8 7 4 20 3rd Northwest 47 50 4-3-2 Road

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{allcanada} Stars' Benn may face discipline for cross-check

Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn could be facing discipline from the NHL following a nasty cross-check to the back of Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Jones Thursday night.

With four minutes left in the third period, Jones made contact with Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen while rushing to the net. On his way to the penalty box for goaltender interference, Jones, with his back turned, was cross-checked violently from behind by Benn.

Jones lay on the ice for a couple of minutes before being helped to the bench by trainers, and eventually went to the locker room.

"Well, I'm sure they're going to look at it. It's not a suspendable offence in my mind," Stars head Glen Gulutzan told reporters after the game. "The guy goes off looking at your bench kind of smirking, you're probably all right. Not a high hit or a head hit."

Benn, who is tied for the team lead in points with 14, received a five-minute major and a game misconduct.

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{allcanada} Avalanche rally for 3 in 3rd to beat Flames 5-4 

DENVER (AP) -- Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and two assists, and the Colorado Avalanche scored three times in the third period to rally past the Calgary Flames 5-4 on Thursday night.

Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny each had a goal and an assist for Colorado, which improved to 6-2-1 at home.

The game had added intrigue when it was announced before the opening faceoff that the Flames had signed restricted free agent Ryan O'Reilly to an offer sheet. While Calgary was taking a 2-0 lead early in the first period, the Avalanche announced they had matched the offer and were keeping the 22-year-old forward.

TSN in Canada reported the deal was for $10 million over two years, including a $2 million signing bonus.

Calgary general manager Jay Feaster said the decision to put forth an offer sheet came after he tried to trade for O'Reilly.

''We had extensive trade discussions with Colorado but felt the price to acquire the player via trade was too steep,'' he said. ''We felt it would negatively impact our future, so we made the decision to go ahead with the offer sheet. We tried to structure it in a way that we felt would give us a better chance to get him.''

Jarome Iginla scored twice and Jay Bouwmeester and Mike Cammalleri each had a goal for the Flames, who had earned at least one point in eight consecutive games at Colorado.

The excitement off the ice was nearly matched on it. Bouwmeester and Cammalleri scored 33 seconds apart to put the Flames ahead 2-0 just 5 minutes into the game.

Iginla made it 3-0 late in the first before Ryan O'Byrne and David Jones scored goals early in the second to cut it to 3-2.

Iginla's second late in the period made it a two-goal game again, but Landeskog made it 4-3 just 23 seconds into the third.

It was Landeskog's first goal since Jan. 22. He missed 11 games with a head injury.

Six minutes later, Stastny knocked in Landeskog's rebound to tie it. Duchene scored the winner when he tipped in a centering pass from Jamie McGinn 10:52 into the third.

Joey MacDonald stopped 31 shots for the Flames. Semyon Varlamov made 19 saves for Colorado.

NOTES: The Flames acquired forward Brian McGrattan from Nashville for defenseman Joe Piskula. McGrattan did not appear in a game this season for the Predators and recently finished a two-week conditioning assignment in the AHL.

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{allcanada} Oilers roll to 5-1 win over Stars

DALLAS (AP) -- With the puck bouncing their way, the Edmonton Oilers had no trouble notching a rare win in Dallas.

Ales Hemsky scored a goal and two assists, Jeff Petry added a goal and an assist, and Devan Dubnyk made 33 saves in helping the Oilers roll to a 5-1 victory over the Stars on Thursday night.

The win snapped Edmonton's six-game losing streak against the Stars, including two meetings earlier this season. The Oilers had been 1-10 in Dallas since Dec. 8, 2006.

''I think mathematically, we were due and when you look at the two games in Edmonton, we played well against Dallas and today we definitely had the bounces on our side,'' Oilers coach Ralph Krueger said. ''Devan Dubnyk played an outstanding game and it was an excellent overall game for the team.''

Sam Gagner, Justin Schultz and Ben Eager also scored for the Oilers, while Jordan Eberle and Lennart Petrell added two assists each.

''We're not the same team we were in the past, so you can't look at our record and think we're going to have a tough time,'' said Gagner, who had five shots on goal. ''I think for us, for the guys that have been here, it's always nice to come into a building you've had some trouble in and get a win. It's a good feeling here tonight.''

Dallas gave the Oilers nine power plays on the night in losing for the third time in its last four home games.

''It was an odd night,'' Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. ''They got a couple bounces early and the penalties didn't allow us to get back in the game. This was a stinker.''

Jaromir Jagr scored Dallas' goal, while Kari Lehtonen made 33 saves in his return to the Stars' net after missing five games with a groin injury. He made a number of big saves and was victimized by two shots from the corner that deflected off teammates in front of him.

''It certainly wasn't the way I wanted to come back and play,'' said Lehtonen, who was activated off injured reserve on Wednesday. ''It was good to play, but the result was awful. I wasn't able to make too many of those key saves I need to make for us to win these games.''

Edmonton, on the second stop of a nine-game road trip, led 2-0 late in the second period before delivering the crushing blow on Petry's second goal of the year with just 13.9 seconds left. Petry received a fortunate bounce when he backhanded the puck from the left corner into the crease, where it pinballed off Lehtonen's stick, off Trevor Daley's arm and over Lehtonen's shoulder.

The Oilers increased the lead to four when Hemsky connected on a power play just 50 seconds into the third, retrieving a Dallas turnover in the high slot and unleashing a wrist shot that beat a screened Lehtonen over the shoulder.

''The last two games, they beat us in the third period. It was just different tonight,'' said Hemsky, who leads Edmonton with eight goals on the season. ''We didn't spend too much energy chasing the puck the way we did a lot before, and you have more energy for offense, and I think that helped us.''

Eager made it 5-0 at 11:37 following another Stars turnover, blasting a one-timer from the right face-off circle past Lehtonen after a nice cross-ice pass from Lennart Petrell.

Jagr spoiled Dubnyk's shutout bid with 5:55 remaining when his snap shot from the high slot found its way over Dubnyk's glove.

Four different Oilers had to be helped off the ice during the game and the simmering hostilities came to a head with four minutes left when Dallas' Jamie Benn was ejected for cross-checking Ryan Jones from behind. Jones, who had run into Lehtonen seconds earlier and was heading to the penalty box for goaltender interference, stayed down for about two minutes before heading to the locker room.

''Well, I'm sure they're going to look at it. It's not a suspendable offense in my mind,'' Gulutzan said of the possibility Benn might be suspended. ''The guy goes off looking at your bench kind of smirking, you're probably all right. Not a high hit or a head hit.''

The Oilers struck first, as Gagner notched his sixth of the season just 1:13 into the opening period. Standing in the right corner, Gagner fired the puck into the crease, where it appeared to ricochet off Benn's skate and past Lehtonen.

''We've talked a lot about getting pucks to the net and we were able to do that tonight,'' said Gagner, who leads the Oilers with 19 points in 19 games. ''Sometimes you get those types of bounces when you're getting pucks into traffic there.''

The teams traded prime scoring opportunities off the rush starting at 8:43 when Dubnyk made a nice pad save on Stephane Robidas' one-timer from the high slot.

Seconds later, Petry raced into the Dallas zone with Taylor Hall on a 2-on-1 rush, and Lehtonen got just enough of his wrist shot to deflect the puck just wide of the right post.

Schultz made it 2-0 Edmonton at 13:52 when he sneaked into the slot and received Eberle's beautiful saucer pass from the left corner for a one-timer that fluttered over the sliding Lehtonen's pad and under his glove.

The Oilers had a great chance to go up by three when back-to-back boarding penalties on the Stars gave Edmonton a 5-on-3 power play for 1:03 that carried into the second period. They had several opportunities, but Lehtonen made sparkling saves in succession on Gagner's one-timer, Schultz's wrist shot and Ryan Smyth's point-blank wrister.

Dallas then had three consecutive power plays through the second period, but came up empty-handed.

With the clubs skating four aside with 4:24 left, rookie defenseman Brenden Dillon took off on a breakaway, but Dubnyk slid out and stacked the pads to deny Dillon's wrist shot from the slot.

A too many men on the ice penalty against Dallas less than a minute later gave the Oilers another 5-on-3 advantage, but again they couldn't cash in.

NOTES: LW Erik Cole made his Dallas debut, registering one shot on goal and a -2 plus/minus rating. Cole was acquired by the Stars on Tuesday from Montreal in exchange for Michael Ryder and a 2013 third-round draft choice. ... Edmonton LW Taylor Hall was back in the lineup after serving a two-game suspension for kneeing Minnesota's Cal Clutterbuck on Feb. 21. ... Oilers D Corey Potter left the contest late in the first period after he was leveled by a hit from Dallas' Eric Nystrom and did not return. ... The Stars honored former RW Jere Lehtinen, who played in Dallas from 1995-2010 and ranks among the top five in franchise history in virtually every offensive category, as part of the squad's all-time team.

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