Islanders will seek revenge in rematch with Blues

BY foxsports • December 11, 2014

The New York Islanders are banged up on defense and that's been evident in their last two games.

Playing without No. 1 goaltender Jaroslav Halak again certainly wouldn't help.

Halak's status is uncertain as the Islanders try to avoid matching their longest losing streak of the season and exact a small measure of revenge Thursday night when they visit the St. Louis Blues.

Jumping out to a 3-0 lead at home against St. Louis on Saturday had New York seemingly on its way to a fourth straight win and ninth in 10 games. However, the Blues answered with three goals in the second period and added three more in the third for a 6-4 victory.

The Islanders (19-9-0) again bolted to a 3-0 first-period lead Tuesday in Minnesota, only to get outshot 27-8 over the final two periods and allow four goals in the final 20 minutes of a 5-4 loss.

"They kept coming and we didn't. We're more upset with the way we played, not the way them came at us," said Josh Bailey, who made it 4-1 on the Islanders' only shot of the second period. "We should be able to handle that."

The one constant in the last two games has been the absence of Johnny Boychuk and Travis Hamonic -- arguably the team's top two defensemen. Both will not play Thursday, and Halak also could sit out again with an upper-body injury.

While Halak has been outstanding in his first season on Long Island, backup Chad Johnson has been a huge disappointment. He gave up at least four goals for the fourth straight start Tuesday and his 3.59 goals-against average ranks second-worst in the league.

FOX Sports Midwest coverage of the Islanders-Blues game begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blues Live.

Halak won a franchise-record 11 straight before allowing all six goals against his former team Saturday.

Getting back on track against the Blues (18-8-2) won't be easy for the Islanders, who have lost four straight meetings and been outscored 14-3 during a road skid in the series.

St. Louis improved to 9-1-1 in its last 11 home games with a 4-2 victory over Florida on Monday. Martin Brodeur made 32 saves to win his home debut with his new team, and Chris Porter scored his first goal of the season.

Brodeur will be on the bench for this game despite recording his 52nd win versus the Islanders on Saturday, his most against any opponent. Jake Allen will start after allowing three goals on 12 shots before he was pulled Saturday in favor of Brodeur.

Injuries have also been a problem for the Blues, but they could get left wing Alexander Steen (lower body) and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (groin) back Thursday. The status of captain David Backes (facial lacerations) is uncertain after he was hit in the face by a puck Monday.

"Hopefully, (Steen and Bouwmeester) both can come in and play, but we'll see," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "David showed up today, but we didn't want him practicing so we'll see how he feels (Thursday) to see if he can skate."

Paul Stastny scored twice against the Islanders over the weekend, giving him four goals and one assist in his last four meetings. Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk had three points in that game and has eight in six career matchups with New York.

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