‘This is probably the worst you could have imagined’: Oilers lose to Blues, remain winless

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EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — The St. Louis Blues picked up their intensity in the second period and handed the winless Edmonton Oilers another loss.

Paul Stastny and Alexander Steen scored in the third period to lead St. Louis to a 4-2 victory Thursday night, spoiling the Oilers’ home opener.

Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko also scored for the Blues, who beat Edmonton for the eighth straight time. Stastny, Steen and Lehtera also each had an assist, and Brian Elliott stopped 24 shots.

“The game in the first period was up for grabs,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Edmonton was probably a bit more energized, but halfway through the second period we started to get on the grind and took it over. We did a good job at the end of the second period and a great job the whole third period.”

Lauri Korpikoski and Taylor Hall scored and Cam Talbot had 25 saves for the Oilers, who fell to 0-4-0. No. 1 draft pick Connor McDavid was held without a point in his first regular season game in Edmonton.

The Oilers have missed the playoffs the last nine seasons, spending most of the time near the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

“I think the whole fan base is impatient right now and we are feeling that right now,” Hall said. “We don’t want to be down 0-4 to start the year. That’s probably the worst-case scenario. When you looked at it mid-summer, this is probably the worst you could have imagined. We have to find a way.”

The Blues took a 2-1 lead with four minutes to play in the second period as a faceoff win in the Edmonton zone came back to Tarasenko, who blasted in his third of the season.

Steen sent a shot in front that deflected off Stastny and in for a power-play goal at 4:20 of the third to extend the lead to 3-1.

Hall pulled Edmonton back within one a little more than two minutes later, battling for a puck in front before lifting a backhand shot into the net.

However, Steen sealed the win with 2:09 remaining as he sent a one-timer past Talbot for his second of the season.

Edmonton head coach Todd McLellan said the whole team is tense at the moment.

“We have a little bit of a roller coaster thing going on right now where we get a little bit of momentum and then the other team will come back and score and we sag a bit,” McLellan said. “Emotionally, we are up and down quite a bit and that comes from not winning.”

It didn’t take the Oilers long to get on the board, scoring on the game’s first shot as a fortunate bounce off the boards came out front to Korpikoski, who buried it past Elliott 1:36 into the game.

St. Louis bounced back 1 1/2 minutes later as Troy Brouwer‘s shot caromed off the post to Lehtera, who beat Talbot.

The Blues took a 2-1 lead with four minutes to play in the second period as a faceoff win in the Edmonton zone came back to Tarasenko, who blasted in his third of the season.

The Blues play the fourth game of a season-high six-game road swing at Vancouver on Friday. The Oilers head back out on the road to play the Flames in Calgary on Saturday.

NOTE: The last time Edmonton defeated St. Louis was a 3-0 shutout in March 2013. … Blues rookie Robby Fabbri was out with a concussion. Also absent for the Blues was D Kevin Shattenkirk (lower body injury). … The Oilers remained without winger Jordan Eberle (shoulder). … It was the final home opener at Rexall Place, as the Oilers will move into their new rink to start next season.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports
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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.