EDMONTON – If Dallas Eakins is to be believed, the Edmonton Oilers love misery.
Chris Stewart scored a hat trick and added an assist as the Blues took advantage of a reeling Oilers team with a 6-0 victory on Saturday night.
The loss was so ugly that Eakins held a lengthy team meeting after the game. The Oilers’ head coach called out a team that is once again playing terrible hockey despite years of rebuilding efforts.
“I’m pinning this loss on the bone-headed mistakes we make when we have everything going in our favour,” said Eakins.
“It is like we love misery. It’s like ‘Oh hold on a second, things are going too well here. Let’s have some misery.’ I’ve had enough misery already and we’ve got some players who have been here for a number of years that have to be done with it.”
The Oilers (11-24-3) have lost a season-high six games in a row and fell to 5-11-1 on home ice. It was the sixth time this season the Oilers have been shut out and the third time in the last five games.
Edmonton started well, but had a complete collapse in the final 40 minutes. Oilers forward David Perron said his coach was calmer in his questioning than he would have been.
“(Eakins) wants us to look in the mirror and see if we are part of the solution,” said Perron. “I think he is completely right. If I was him I think I would have been tearing all four walls down. It is unacceptable the way we played in the second and third after a good first period like that.”
Brenden Morrow, Patrik Berglund and Jaden Schwartz also scored for the Blues (24-7-4) who are 5-1-1 in their last seven outings.
Brian Elliot made 23 saves to record his second shutout of the season and 23rd of his career.
“They came out strong and we weathered the storm and scored one,” Elliott said. “Then we settled into what we wanted to do in the second. We wanted to finish out with a good 20 minutes in the third.
“We were getting guys making plays and obviously Stewart scoring three definitely helps on a night like tonight.”
Stewart said it was just one of those nights when everything he shot was going in.
“A huge credit to my linemates tonight, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and they teed it up for me,” he said. “I have to keep shooting I guess. I kind of had a rough start to the year, and I told myself I wasn’t going to pass up any more opportunities in the slot, I’m going to shoot to score and it’s been working out as of late.
“It’s the same shots earlier in the year, but there’s some eyes on them now. I just want to keep putting them on net and hope they keep going in.”
Edmonton controlled the bulk of the play through the first half of the opening period as they outshot St. Louis 10-1, but it was the Blues who got on the scoreboard first.
Oilers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov rushed out of his net to prevent Berglund from getting a breakaway after he stepped out of the penalty box, but couldn’t clear the zone. The puck came to Stewart at the side of the net before Bryzgalov could get back into position and he scored his 11th of the season.
Edmonton ended up with 14 shots on Elliott to five on Bryzgalov through the first 20 minutes.
The Blues went ahead by two goals six minutes into the second period on a pretty tic-tac-toe passing play. Derek Roy and Stewart got it to Morrow in front and he lifted a backhand up high and into the Oilers’ net.
St. Louis made it 3-0 just shy of two minutes into the third period as Berglund made a feed from behind the net to Stewart, who scored his second on a one-timer.
Only 56 seconds later the Blues went up by four goals. Schwartz crossed the blue-line and unleashed a shot that seemed to fool Bryzgalov before clipping the post and going in.
The Blues took a 5-0 lead seven minutes into the third with a power-play goal as Roy made a perfect feed through the crease to Stewart at the side of the net and he put it into a wide-open cage to record his third-career hat trick.
St. Louis continued to pound on the down-and-out Oilers with seven minutes left as Bryzgalov allowed a soft goal on a long shot by Berglund that tipped off his glove and into the net. Bryzgalov finished with 21 saves.
Both teams return to the ice on Monday night as the Oilers play host to the Winnipeg Jets and the Blues travel to Calgary to face the Flames.
Notes: It was the first meeting since an off-season trade that saw David Perron go from the Blues to the Oilers in return for Magnus Paajarvi and a second-round pick. Perron entered the game with 27 points in 33 games, while Paajarvi had just two points in 15 games. … Edmonton defenceman Corey Potter returned from a two-game suspension. … Oilers forward Ryan Jones missed the game after being knocked unconscious in a collision with captain Andrew Ference in the morning skate. … St. Louis captain David Backes returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with a concussion. Also out for the Blues were forwards Vladimir Sobotka (upper body) Ryan Reaves (hand) and defenceman Jordan Leopold (hand).