Blues win in blue-collar fashion
ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues are not the flashiest club in the NHL.
Not even close.
"We're not a pretty team," admitted captain David Backes.
St. Louis returned to its hard-working, somewhat ugly blue-collar roots on Friday night as Vladimir Sobotka scored early in the third period and Jaroslav Halak made 15 saves to lead the Blues to a 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers before 19,476 at Scottrade Center.
Backes, Jaden Schwartz and Kevin Shattenkirk also scored for St. Louis, which regained some long-lost home-ice mojo as well.
The Blues, who led the NHL with a 30-6-5 home mark last season, had just one win in their previous seven home games before facing the Oilers.
But the magic resurfaced in the form of four answered goals and a nifty come-from-behind win.
The Blues improved to a mediocre 5-5-1 on friendly ice. They are 10-2-1 in their last 13 against the Oilers.
The performance was not pretty -- just effective, according to Backes, who put the game away with his third goal of the season at 14:37 of the third period.
"We're a hard-nosed, in-your-face team," he said. "We try to outwork you shift after shift. You saw glimpses of that tonight that you haven't seen in a long time. That's the kind of effort that we needed."
St. Louis, 1-5-1 in its previous seven home games, fell behind 2-0 in the first period and appeared headed for another disappointing defeat.
But Schwartz lit a fire with the first goal and Shattenkirk tied it later in the second period. That outburst set the stage for goals by Sobotka and Backes down the stretch.
"I thought our second period was excellent; we started to take the game over," St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We gathered it in and started to play the right way."
Edmonton, which was on the third stop of a franchise-record nine-game road trip, jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Taylor Hall and Ryan Whitney just 23 seconds apart late in the first period.
Schwartz got the rally started by scoring from the slot early in the second period. The goal was the Blues' first at home in 94:47 and seemed to ignite a slumbering offense.
"I tried to spark the team, I knew we needed that next goal," Schwartz said. "That's my job."
Shattenkirk, who is tied for the team lead with 16 points, then tied the game on a slap shot from just inside the blue line. The power play tally broke a 0-for-14 skid with the man advantage.
St. Louis, with the momentum from the two goals, controlled play in the third period.
Sobotka got the game-winner just 4:28 into the final period. He picked up a loose puck behind the net and skated out front before whipping a shot from a bad angle past Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk.
"I think we are all happy that we came back," Sobotka said. "Just happy we got the two points."
The Oilers zipped out of the gate thanks to Hall and Whitney. Hall converted off a scramble in front of the net for his fourth goal of the season. Whitney scored off a cross-ice pass from Ryan Smyth for a 2-0 lead.
But Halak, who improved to 5-1-1, shut the door the rest of the way saving the final 12 shots.
"It's disappointing that we let them back in the game," Edmonton coach Ralph Krueger said.
Whitney felt his club simply let down after getting a 2-0 lead.
"We just started turning the puck over," he said. "And we didn't get many shots."
Hall suffered a leg injury in the second period and did not play in the third. Krueger said he is likely to miss a day or two.
Notes: Schwartz had a game-high seven shots on goal. ... Dubnyk is 0-7 lifetime against the Blues. ... Edmonton has outscored the opposition 15-14 in the first period this season. ... The Blues recorded the first seven shots of the game. ... Edmonton has not won more than two games in a row this season. ... The Oilers are coming off a 5-1 win at the Dallas Stars on Thursday, their first win there since Dec. 8, 2006. ... The Blues begin a season-high five-game road trip Sunday in Dallas. ... This is the first of three meetings between the teams over the next 26 days. .... St. Louis LW Chris Porter played in his 100th NHL game.
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