Ripe for the pickin'

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI

, Last Updated: 8:19 AM ET

ST. LOUIS -- The Edmonton Oilers finally got to pick on someone their own size last night.

Mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, too, with three wins in their last 12 games and a grocery list of injuries, the St. Louis Blues were ripe for the pickin'.

Not as ripe, however, as the Oilers.

Ripe like donairs left out in the hot Missouri sun, they lost, and smelled rather bad in doing so, for the 15th time in 16 games.

"We couldn't make a play early," said head coach Craig MacTavish, steamed at the lack of fire and concentration in his lineup in the 5-2 defeat.

"They came hard, they put a lot of pressure on us and we couldn't handle it.

"A game like that is an indication of where we are right now. Everybody had a hand in it tonight, it was pretty disappointing."

OILERS OUTSHOT 42-18

Though they didn't give him any support - the Oilers were outshot 42-18, including 15-3 in the second period and 13-5 in the third - goalie Jussi Markkanen didn't give Edmonton the kind of night they'd hoped for.

"Doug Weight's goal early is a bad angle shot, the next one is from below the goal line," said MacTavish. "It's just a product of being too deep in the net. That's not to blame Jussi, though. Everybody had a hand in it. But unless we get world-class goaltending it's going to be difficult. They were clearly the better team for 60 minutes."

Well, maybe not all 60.

After St. Louis jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Weight and Peter Sejna, and looked like they'd run the visitors out of the rink, Edmonton scored twice (Ales Hemsky and Mathieu Roy) during a first period four-on-four to make a game of it, for a while.

"We were solid for 58 minutes," grinned Blues coach Andy Murray. "There were only two minutes that I really didn't like that much."

The rest of the night was MacTavish's to lament. St. Louis pulled away in the second. Markkanen whiffed on Lee Stempniak's long wrist shot and had no chance on Jay McClement's one-timer off the two-on-one with Weight. An empty-netter in the third rounded out the rout.

"They came out of the gate hard, really hard, and we didn't match it," said winger Joffrey Lupul. "We didn't compete as hard as we needed to. We're not really in a spot where we can get down two goals. We did it once and came back, you're not going to do it twice."

Nothing against the Blues, who are much improved and were playing their second-last home game in front of a fan base they're desperately trying to win back, but this was one of the more winnable games on the trip.

"And we came out and played the first 10 or 15 minutes in our own zone," said Lupul. "It really wasn't what we envisioned."

Roy, just back from a concussion, was feeling dizzy and had a headache after being hit on the chin with puck late in the game. He'll be reassessed today.

WEIGHT LIFTED

The Blues' woeful campaign hasn't been much fun for Weight, but the ring he won last year in Carolina takes some of the sting off it.

"It's a lot easier to swallow with what happened last year," he said. "But the first 30 games were probably the toughest of my career, coming off that great peak. "This team just underachieved, man, it was a terrible scenario. Where we are now isn't as bad as it looks, though. We really feel we're going to be a good team in this league next year, a playoff team."


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