Martin Rucinsky scores twice to lead Blues to 5-3 win over Oilers

Edmonton was within a goal of the St. Louis Blues on Sunday afternoon before Lee Stempniak scored in the third period to put the game out of reach.

It added up to a 5-3 loss for the Oilers and coach Craig MacTavish was none too happy about it.

“That fourth goal hurt us getting back in the game, and we’ve seemingly done that a lot this year,” said MacTavish. “The game isn’t rocket science.

“It’s a simple game; you get it in deep, you don’t make mistakes and you support one another.”

Edmonton is 2-5-1 in its last eight games and 2-6-1 away from Rexall Place.

Martin Rucinsky, with two, Bryce Salvador and Jay McClement also had goals for St. Louis (5-8-3), which won for the second time in its last eight games. Backup goalie Curtis Sanford made 31 saves for the Blues.

Brad Winchester scored twice in reply while Fernando Pisani added another for the Oilers (8-8-1).

The Blues found themselves in unfamiliar territory by holding a 3-2 to lead at the start of the third period. Stempniak extended it after taking a pass from Tkachuk, skating down the left wing and lifting a backhander over goalie Jussi Markkanen.

“I knew there was pressure coming from the back,” said Stempniak. “I just wanted to use a boost off of him and get a shot.”

Pisani cut the advantage to 4-3 with a power-play goal at 16:38, but Rucinsky put the game away with an empty-net goal.

The Blues have made a habit of falling behind by two or more goals, then battling back. Tkachuk, for one, did not mind doing it the easy way on Sunday.

“We’ve come back a lot,” Tkachuk said. “But we’ve shot ourselves too much in the foot. It’s nice playing a 5-on-5 and not playing catch-up for a change.”

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Stempniak noticed a difference in the Blues’ style of play.

“We played with desperation all afternoon,” said Stempniak, who also had an assist. “In the past, we’d get down by a couple of goals and then come out and play with a lot desperation and urgency. We’re a much better team when we do that all game and we showed it today.”

The Blues briefly had a two-goal advantage in the second period. Rucinsky gave the Blues a 2-1 lead when he beat Markkanen with a wrist shot from the left circle at the two-minute mark. McClement made it 3-1 when he swatted home the rebound of Eric Brewer’s shot at 18:39 of the period.

But Winchester got the Oilers back in it before the period was over with his second goal. He broke into the St. Louis zone and surprised Sanford, who was screened by Brewer, with a wrist shot from between the circles with 4.6 seconds left.

A similar event occurred in the first period when Salvador gave the Blues a 1-0 advantage on a slap shot from the left point at the 14:03 mark. Just 42 seconds later, Winchester tied the game 1-1 off a scramble for a loose puck in front of Sanford.

Notes: St. Louis begins a five-game road trip starting in Calgary on Tuesday night and will not return to the Scottrade Center until Nov. 25. . . . Winchester has three goals in his last four games. . . . Rucinsky’s first goal was his first since Oct. 17. . . . Blues defenceman Matt Walker left the game with a groin strain and did not return.