Smyth scored twice and Ales Hemsky equalled a career high with three assists as the Edmonton Oilers started a seven game homestand with a 6-2 drubbing of the St. Louis Blues on Thursday. On Monday night in Colorado, it looked like Smyth might be gone for a while when he was helped off ice after a knee-on-knee hit with Avalanche defenceman John-Michael Liles. Smyth ended up suffering a only a charlie horse. He was saved by a stout knee brace he has worn since a hit from Rick Tocchet eight years ago.
“I’m having a little luck here and there,” Smyth said. “The guy upstairs is watching over me I guess. Sometimes when you hover around the net good things happen and they have been going in for me
Marc-Andre Bergeron, Marty Reasoner, Fernando Pisani and Joffrey Lupul also scored for Edmonton, while Keith Tkachuk and Ryan Johnson responded for the Blues.
The Oilers improved to 10-8-1 and 7-2 on home ice. The Blues fell to 5-10-3 on the season.
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish knows that Smyth’s goals aren’t often pretty but you nonetheless can’t deny the work that goes into them.
“One was an inch over and the other was off his skate,” he said. “Some things in this life are beyond explanation. How he continues to be as productive as he is, that’s a testament to his willingness and his biggest aspect, his persistence. He’ll go in there and you can’t get him out of there.”
Three players who had been suffering from scoring slumps, Bergeron, Lupul and Pisani all had two points apiece on the night for Edmonton.
In Bergeron’s case, he was wondering if his scoring drought would ever end before scoring a second period power play marker for his first of the year.
“That’s probably the first time in my whole career that it has taken me this long into a season to get my first goal,” he said. “You almost wonder if you are ever going to get another one. But finally I got it out of the way. Hopefully they are going to keep going in.”
On the other side of the ice, St. Louis certainly has had the blues when travelling this season, now sitting 1-6-1 on the road, with three more games remaining on a five game trip.
“We are all fighting the puck right now,” said Blues head coach Mike Kitchen. “We’re squeezing sticks and not getting any breaks and that is why we are spending most of the game in the penalty box. We become very undisciplined. When we run into a little adversity it seems to really be affecting our confidence right now.”
Edmonton set the tone just over two minutes in to the game, when Pisani was able to get to a puck just before diving St. Louis starter Manny Legace could get his glove on it. Petr Sykora picked the puck up behind the net and fed it to Smyth who trickled his 13th of the year into the net for a 1-0 Oilers lead.
Just over six minutes later Reasoner wristed a shot over a sprawling Legace for the goal.
Edmonton took a three goal lead after the first when Bergeron blasted a shot from the top of the circle that hit Smyth’s skate and deflected past Legace.
Just over a minute into the second period, Lupul took a pass at the side of the net and calmly slid a power play goal past Legace, chasing the Blues netminder from the game. Recent call-up Jason Bacashihua took his place between the pipes.
St. Louis finally got on the board five minutes later as Matt Greene coughed up the puck on a cross ice passing attempt and Tkachuk went in alone, making a nice deke to beat Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson.
The Oilers power play continued to click halfway through the second as Bergeron scored his first of the season, blasting a bullet glove side past Bacashihua to restore the four goal edge.
St. Louis scored again just 17 seconds into the third when Johnson’s wrist shot seemed to catch Roloson by surprise, his first of the year to close the score within three.
But any hopes of a comeback were dashed when the Oilers scored their fourth power-play goal of the contest. Pisani received the puck on the doorstep and showed some patience waiting for Bacashihua to go down before scoring to give Edmonton the 6-2 win.
The Oilers play the second game of their homestand on Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings. St. Louis heads to Vancouver on Friday for the third game of their current five game road trip.
Notes: Blues assistant captain Doug Weight played in his 1,000th NHL game on Thursday night. It was a fitting place for Weight to hit the milestone as he played the majority of his career games in Edmonton, suiting up for 588 games in Oilers silks. . . . The victory marked the 200th career NHL victory for Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. In six seasons coaching the Oilers, MacTavish has a 200-168-61 record in 429 games, second in career Oilers coaching wins behind Glen Sather.