SUN Hockey Pool

Brule helps bury Blues

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

Gilbert Brule is well aware of the current situation with the Edmonton Oilers.

With three players that started the season in Springfield, eventually somebody has to go back to the American Hockey League when Ales Hemsky is ready to return.

Brule made his case to stay last night, scoring the opening goal in a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues at Rexall Place.

"He had one of those nights where the puck just followed him," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"When he gets in there, he doesn't make too many mistakes. It was a great play on the goal and it was a nice pass by (Ryan) Potulny."

The goal was Brule's first point as an Edmonton Oiler and his first NHL marker since Oct. 31, 2007.

"I think this was my best game (in Edmonton)," Brule said.

"I was banging out there, I had a few shots, scored a goal, made a few plays and I felt pretty comfortable.

"I was getting out there pretty consistently. It felt good."

The 22-year-old, acquired in the off-season trade with Columbus that sent Raffi Torres to the Blue Jackets, had three shots in 13:45 of ice time.

Before last night, the local product had not registered a point in five games for the Oilers.

"This was a huge confidence-booster for me," Brule said. "To get that goal was huge. It was great."

Brule's second-period marker pulled the Oilers even after Yan Stastny had given the Blues the lead, as Jay McClement's centring pass bounced off him past Dwayne Roloson in the Edmonton net.

Later in the period, Brule took a long pass from Potulny, who joined the Oilers earlier in the day to take the injured Zack Stortini's place in the lineup, and lifted a shot over Blues goaltender Manny Legace.

"I was cheating a little bit; I was out at the blue-line when the play was still in our zone," Brule said. "Potulny just made a good pass, and I was able to make a little fake and I went upstairs on him (Legace)."

Like Brule, Potulny made a strong case to stay with the Oilers with two assists in his debut.

The win improved the Oilers record to 3-2 on their five-game homestand. They now head out on a three-game road trip, starting tomorrow in Washington against the Capitals.

"I think we played a pretty smart game," Brule said. "We were moving the puck a lot better than we did in the last game, finishing all our checks and stretching (long passes) well, which is something that we worked on this week."

Having played the better part of his first two years with the Blue Jackets -- something MacTavish said might have hindered his development --Brule is in a situation where he'll have to clear waivers in order to return to Springfield if he reaches 160 career games.

Last night was No. 152.

"I'm aware of the situation," he said.

"I know I have to clear waivers if they decide to send me back down after 160 games. Hopefully, that doesn't happen. I'd like to stay here in Edmonton."


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