The St. Louis Blues return home after facing a pair of tough
West Coast opponents and losing consecutive games in regulation for
the first time.
The prospects for a quick turnaround seem high Thursday night
when they meet the New York Islanders, one of the NHL’s worst road
The Blues (18-5-3) lost 3-2 at Los Angeles on Monday after
Friday’s 6-3 defeat in San Jose. They fell behind 3-0 early in the
second period against the Kings and 4-0 in the first versus the
“I think there’s lessons to be learned,” defenseman Jay
Bouwmeester told the team’s official website. “Both games, right
from the start, we got outcompeted. We’re a team that prides
ourselves on our work and being able to grind teams out, and we
kind of got a taste of our own medicine, I guess, the last couple
of games, and we didn’t respond well.”
That hasn’t been the case for the Blues at home. Their 24 points
there tie them for the most in the Western Conference, and they’ve
won four straight at Scottrade Center.
Jaroslav Halak allowed all three goals against the Kings after
giving up four in winning his previous four starts. He will start
again after going 5-1-1 with a 1.41 goals-against average and .955
save percentage in seven games against the Islanders (8-15-5).
Kevin Shattenkirk and Vladimir Tarasenko scored third-period
goals Monday for the Blues, but it wasn’t enough to compensate for
the slow start.
“Outplayed significantly in the first period, outcompeted, not
ready for the tempo,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “That’s our
responsibility. Players and coaches, we’ve got to get ready for the
tempo of the game. We revved it up halfway through the hockey game.
We can’t play like that.”
The last-place Islanders embark on a daunting five-game road
trip against the West. Already riding an 0-5-2 skid, there’s the
potential for things to get ugly as they face five of the top eight
teams in the West.
The Islanders are 3-9-0 on the road, with those six points
ranking last in the league.
“My frustration is the same as what the players are feeling
because we’ve all been there,” coach Jack Capuano said after
Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime loss to Pittsburgh.
Kyle Okposo scored a pair of first-period goals for the
Islanders, but they were unable to hold a third-period lead for a
second straight game. John Tavares assisted on both, and his 32
points have him among the league leaders.
New York has scored more than two goals once during the
seven-game slide and three times during a 2-10-2 stretch.
The Islanders are 4-2-2 when leading after two periods, and
their 17 third-period goals rank 28th.
“In the third period I didn’t think we had the same jam,” Okposo
told the team’s official website. “We didn’t get at them like we
did in the first two periods. We have to do a better job of closing
Doing a better job of closing out opponents’ power plays would
also help. The Islanders allowed two power-play goals against the
Penguins, and their 71.4 penalty-kill percentage is among the worst
in the league.
“It came down to special teams again,” Capuano said.
The Blues’ 23.9 power-play percentage ranks among the best in
They’ve won three of four over the Islanders, including 5-1 in
St. Louis in the last meeting Feb. 16, 2012.