(AP) — The New York Islanders find themselves on the verge of their longest road winning streak in more than 10 years.
Keeping things going, however, could prove difficult against a St. Louis Blues team that’s been next to unbeatable on its own ice.
The Islanders seek a fifth consecutive road win Thursday night when they face the Blues, who try to extend their franchise-best home point streak to 20.
New York (24-24-8), which entered 2011-12 with an NHL-worst 40.2 winning percentage as the visiting team over the previous six seasons, has managed to keep its playoff hopes alive behind an impressive display on the road.
The Islanders have taken six of seven in opposing arenas – including four in a row while allowing a combined four goals. New York hasn’t won five straight on the road since a six-game run Oct. 5-26, 2001.
“We know we’re not the best offensive team, but we know if we’re patient and have enough skill from our top forwards that we’re going to get it done,” said forward P.A. Parenteau, who had a goal and an assist during Tuesday’s 3-1 at Winnipeg. “That’s the main thing when we play on the road. I think we’ve been having success since we’ve been doing that.”
Ranking near the bottom of the league with 2.32 goals per game, the Islanders could find getting on the board all the more difficult in St. Louis (34-15-7). The Blues have suffered just three regulation losses at the Scottrade Center, where they’ve gone 16-0-3 over their last 19 games while surrendering an average of 1.47 goals.
St. Louis saw its overall four-game winning streak come to an end with Tuesday’s 2-1 loss at Columbus. David Perron’s game-tying goal with 1.8 seconds remaining was disallowed after it was ruled he gloved the puck into the net.
Despite the loss, St. Louis sits in fourth place in the Western Conference – five points behind NHL-leading Detroit. The Islanders, meanwhile, are trying to get back into the thick of things in the East.
New York is one of a handful of teams vying for the eighth and final spot in the conference.
“We still control our destiny and we still feel like we’re really in the mix,” Parenteau told the team’s official website.
Evgeni Nabokov came through in a big way Tuesday, making 37 saves to improve to 8-3-0 with a 1.56 goals-against average over his last 11 games. He’s gone an even more impressive 5-1-0 with two shutouts and a minuscule 0.98 GAA on the road over that stretch.
Nabokov went 9-1-3 with a 1.80 GAA and two shutouts during his last 13 meetings with the Blues while with San Jose. He’s 2-0-1 with a 0.97 GAA in his last three trips to St. Louis but hasn’t visited since late 2009.
After turning away 25 shots in Sunday’s 3-0 win over the Sharks, the Blues’ Jaroslav Halak made 31 saves in Tuesday’s loss. He’s 11-0-1 with a 1.48 GAA over his 12 most recent home games. Teammate Brian Elliott has also excelled at home, going 10-1-2 with a 1.44 GAA.
Elliott enters this game winner of three straight overall. Halak is 5-0-1 with a 1.15 GAA and two shutouts in his last six matchups with the Islanders.
New York had gone 4-0-1 over its previous five road meetings with St. Louis before falling 4-1 on Nov. 21, 2009. The Islanders took the last overall meeting in the series, 5-2 on March 5.