Blues before the break

Ryan Smyth finds himself in his usual spot in front of the opposition net, but he couldn't get this...

Ryan Smyth finds himself in his usual spot in front of the opposition net, but he couldn't get this shot past St. Louis Blues goalie Curtis Sanford during the third period last night. (Edmonton Sun/Darryl Dyck)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:33 AM ET

Leftovers for brunch?

That's what fans were treated to yesterday at Rexall Place when what was left of the Edmonton Oilers played what's left of the St. Louis Blues.

And all 16,839 of them left with bad tastes in their mouths when the last-place team in the Western Conference stole a 5-4 shootout win in the last game before a much-needed Olympic break.

"It was a disappointing loss," said Ryan Smyth, who scored two goals in the defeat.

"But it's a tough game to play when you have a lot of injuries and you have a two-week break in front of you. But we got a point.

"We just have to get rested up, recuperate, hopefully we can get some guys back and get off on the right foot after the break."

The cost-cutting Blues, who jettisoned Chris Pronger in the off season and Doug Weight and Mike Sillinger in recent trades, were also without injured players Eric Brewer, Jamal Mayers and Bryce Salvador.

Edmonton, slumping to begin with, and minus Michael Peca, Ethan Moreau, Jason Smith, Marty Reasoner, Dick Tarnstrom and Igor Ulanov, dressed five rookies, including four with fewer than 14 NHL games (Mathieu Roy, 0, Kyle Brodziak, 9, Brad Winchester, 13, and J.F. Jacques, 5).

"It felt like an exhibition game," said Shawn Horcoff, plus-two in 22:38 of ice time.

"It wasn't an exhibition atmosphere, but when you looked around the dressing room, that's what it felt like. You've got all your top minor-league guys up.

"But those guys gave us a lot of energy."

It turned out to be a decent little purse fight, with Edmonton outshooting the visitors 28-12, but needing a goal from Georges Laraque with just 2:23 left in the game to salvage the point.

"I was happy to get to the shootout, happy to get to overtime," said head coach Craig MacTavish.

"We knew we were in tough, but we played pretty well. We were sitting on 12 or 13 shots (against) through the middle part of the third period, which what we need to do defensively to win."

Edmonton controlled the play in the first period, staking 1-0 and 2-1 leads on goals from Raffi Torres and Ryan Smyth, but two goals on five shots earned Mike Morrison a hook and St. Louis a 2-2 tie at the intermission.

Lee Stempniak made 3-2 Blues after 40, Smyth tied it early in the third and Jussi Markkanen waved on a long-floater to make it 4-3 St. Louis with just 3:36 to go. Laraque, one of the few Oilers who was actually getting better heading into the break, tucked a loose puck inside the corner to save the day.

"I was impressed by the way we bounced back and got ourselves off the tarmac," said MacTavish.

"We've been kicked around pretty good the last little while, It was a big goal by Georges."

After the overtime, MacTavish lifted Markkanen and re-inserted Morrison, undefeated in five previous shootouts. The crowd loved it, and Morrison stopped two of three Blues shooters, but Edmonton came up empty when Ales Hemsky, Smyth and Fernando Pisani didn't get a sniff on St. Louis goalie Curtis Sanford.

"We've talked about it in the past," said Morrison. "So we figured we'd give it a shot. I had no problem with it. I thought it was a decent idea. I was ready to get in there. I felt good on the first two. The third kid (Dennis Wideman) just made a nice move.

"It's a bummer to kind of end it like this. At least we got the point, it's a much-needed point, but this vacation is coming at just the right time."


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