Opposing players are starting to take note of what could finally be significant improvement from the Edmonton Oilers.
Connor McDavid had a goal and an assist as the Oilers won their second straight game in a strong start to the season, defeating the St. Louis Blues 3-1 on Thursday night.
"They are not the Oilers of the last few years, I'll tell you that," Blues goalie Jake Allen said. "They are a good hockey club and obviously made some good additions to their team."
Tyler Pitlick and off-season free-agent signing Milan Lucicscored for Edmonton, which improved to 4-1-0 on the season.
"Starting 4-1, we couldn't ask for a better start," McDavid said. "I think we're feeling pretty good about ourselves, but I think it's about keeping it on an even keel."
Beating one of the best teams in the league was definitely a boost, according to Lucic.
"It's a huge win," he said. "We talked about getting off to a good start, having a good first five games to get our team rolling and build some confidence before the Heritage Classic. It was great that we were able to play a really good game against a really good team."
Nail Yakupov replied for the Blues (3-1-1) in his return to Edmonton since he was traded to St. Louis earlier this month.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock felt his team let one get away.
"We've really wasted some great goaltending displays by Jake. He's been outstanding and given us a chance to win both of these last two games," said Hitchcock, who watched his team lose 2-1 in overtime to Vancouver on Tuesday.
"It's unfortunate with the way he has been playing to only come out with one point from these last two games."
There was no scoring in the first period, with the Blues getting 10 shots on Oilers goalie Cam Talbot and Edmonton directing eight shots on Allen.
The Blues got on the board 3:37 into the second as a scramble allowed Joel Edmundson to feed it in front to Yakupov. It was the second goal of the season for the former Oiler.
The Oilers pulled even three minutes later as Pitlick made a nifty deflection off a shot by Andrej Sekera while being knocked flying to score his third of the season.
Edmonton made it 2-1 just 36 seconds into the third period as McDavid broke out of a two-game scoring drought by threading a pass through to Lucic in front. It was the big wing's second goal of the year.
Both goaltenders made big saves before the Blues came close to tying it up midway through the third. Yakupov had Talbot beat on a backhand shot, but hit the post.
McDavid put the game away with his fourth goal of the season into an empty net.
"Tonight was a huge test for us," Talbot said. "Any time you can beat a powerhouse like St. Louis, it goes a long way for the confidence in this group and moving forward that's what we need to have."
Notes: It was the first of three meetings between the teams this season. . Yakupov spent four seasons with the Oilers, recording 111 points in 252 games. . Blues F Jaden Schwartz played his first game of the season after recovering from a hyperextended elbow. . Talbot made his fifth start of the season one day after his wife, Kelly, gave birth to twins.
Blues: Conclude a three-game road trip in Calgary on Saturday.
Oilers: Are off until Sunday, when they play the Jets in the Heritage Classic outdoor game in Winnipeg.