The New York Islanders won the game. And then, they didn’t.
And they’re still trying to figure out why.
Kevin Shattenkirk and Alexander Steen scored in the shootout to give the St. Louis Blues a 4-3 win over the Islanders on Saturday following a puzzling goal reversal call in overtime.
After T.J. Oshie tied it for the Blues with 27 seconds left in regulation, Thomas Vanek appeared to score the winner for the Islanders on the power play with 1:15 left in overtime – but the play was overturned on review at the NHL offices in Toronto.
The puck hit Vanek’s skate blade and dribbled past Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak, but a distinct kicking motion that usually negates goals wasn’t apparent.
”I thought it was a terrible call,” Vanek said. ”I think we all know what a kicking motion is. My skate never elevated, it was on the ice the whole time. I don’t know if it’s because who we are. I think if that’s Pittsburgh or some of those top teams, it’s maybe a goal.
”For that to be overturned is just too bad.”
Islanders coach Jack Capuano wouldn’t be drawn into the controversy – but knew what he saw.
”The referees made the right call on the ice,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. ”Then they must have seen something in Toronto that was conclusive.”
Added Blues coach Ken Hitchcock: ”They aren’t going to make a mistake when it goes to Toronto.”
The Islanders had an early 2-0 lead for the second straight game. And again, they found themselves tied and in a battle. The Islanders (21-25-8) have led by two or more goals 15 times in 54 games this season – and are 6-4-5 in those contests.
Matt Martin put the Islanders ahead 3-2 midway through the second period.
The home team was almost able to withstand the Blues’ relentless pressure in the game’s closing minutes. Earlier in the period, Oshie’s shot hit both posts but didn’t cross the goal line behind Islanders goalie Kevin Poulin.
Vanek and Kyle Okposo scored in the first for the Islanders, who lost for the fifth time in 15 games. Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice for the Blues.
Poulin made a number of acrobatic saves for New York, with his best being a point-blank pad save on Blues leading scorer Steen midway through the second. He also denied Steen and Oshie during a power play midway through the third.
But the Blues (35-11-5) wouldn’t quit, leaving Hitchcock pleased.
”This was good, gritty road win,” he said. ”I like the way the team played in the third period.”
Vanek opened the scoring at 4:01 of the first, slapping the puck by Halak for his 19th of the season. Vanek has points in 17 of his last 19 games with nine goals and 16 assists during the stretch.
The 30-year-old left wing was acquired from Buffalo on Oct. 27 for Matt Moulson and two high draft picks. The line of Vanek, John Tavares and Kyle Okposo was at it again at 15:11 when Okposo jammed the puck past Halak for his 22nd goal of the year.
Fans at Nassau Coliseum also chanted ”U-S-A! U-S-A!” for Okposo, who wasn’t picked for the U.S. team for the Winter Games next month in Russia even though he’s having a breakout season. Okposo already has a career-high 54 points.
Tarasenko cut the margin in half at 17:17 of the first, beating Poulin high from about 30 feet out. The 22-year-old right wing scored again at 1:17 of the second, his 17th goal this season. He hit the left post late in second and had a golden chance midway through the third when his rebound shot appeared to hit both posts without going into the net.
The Blues won the previous meeting this season, 5-1 at the Scottrade Center on Dec. 5. They were completing visits to all three local teams. They defeated the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday after losing 7-1 in Newark to the Devils.
”This a great way to end the trip with a bonus point,” Oshie said. ”We found a way to battle back and we’ll have a fun ride home.”
NOTES: The Blues host the Devils on Tuesday. St. Louis is 16-3-1 against the East this season. They are 40-10-6 against the East since 2010-11, league-best intra-conference play. … The Islanders are 19-6-3 when they score at least three goals and are 2-19-5 when they do not. … Ten members of the Blues will represent their countries at the Olympics, tying Chicago and Detroit for the most among NHL teams.