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11-7-2

Oilers-Blues Preview

AP - Sports

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.

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