UNIONDALE,NY – The St. Louis Blues fought back all game against the New York Islanders Saturday afternoon tying it late in regulation and then winning it with New-York native Kevin Shattenkirk’s goal in the third round of the shootout. It was the second game in a row where Shattenkirk’s heroics secured another victory, this one sending the Blues home with 6 of 8 points on the four-game road trip.
The game did not start well for the Blues as the Islanders started strong with relentless pressure in the St. Louis zone. Early-on, New York seemed to catch the Blues running around chasing the puck in their own zone. The effort led to the game’s first goal when Thomas Vanek netted his 19th of the season when snuck in from the right circle and sent a loose puck over the glove side of Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak for the 1-0 lead.
New York extended its’ lead a little more than eleven minutes later when Kyle Okposo retrieved a puck behind the St. Louis net catching Halak guarding the far post while he was sneaking the puck home at the near post for his 22nd of the season. This was just the latest benefit afforded offenses with a shallower net base helping scoring threats.
Despite being outplayed in the first frame, St. Louis exited the period by closing the scoring gap. Vladimir Tarasenko crossed over the blue line into the islander zone and using an Islander defenseman as a screen, sent a wrist shot on net from 45 feet out beating New York goaltender Kevin Poulin over the glove hand. It was the Russian sniper’s 16th marker of the season.
As the second period began, it did not take long for Tarasenko to add to his scoring streak. Just over a minute into the middle period, the Blues tied the game when the sophomore winger accepted a rebound from in front of the net and sent a drive from between the circles past Poulin to tie it. It was his 17th of the season and second of the day.
The game did not stay tied for long, though, as New York regained the lead just a little more than two minutes later. Islanders’ defenseman Casey Cizikas, stationed at the right point, sent a pass to Colin McDonald who was camped to the right of the St. Louis Goal. McDonald then slipped a pass to a streaking Matt Martin who one-timed the puck past Halak to regain the lead. It was Martin’s fourth goal of the season and it seemed it would hold up.
But the Islanders seemed to revert to a defensive shell in the third period allowing St. Louis to get back into the game. Allowing 14 St. Louis shots on goal, the Islanders could only muster 7 shots in the final period, a drastic change from the 13 shots they gained in each of the first two periods.
St. Louis slowly gained the upper hand and finally broke through late in the game. With their net empty, the Blues continued applying pressure and finding success with just 27 seconds left.
With Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka creating havoc in front of the New York net, the puck came back to T.J. Oshie who sent a slick wrist shot on net beating Poulin low to the stick side tying the game 3-3. Poulin appealed to the referee for interference, but to no avail.
Heading to overtime, despite the momentum St. Louis carried over, New York gained the benefit of a power play due to Jaden Schwartz tripping penalty on Michael Grabner. With a little more than a minute left to play in the extra period, Thomas Vanek pounced on a rebound in front of Halak and seemed to score the game-winning goal. After further review, it was determined the Islander forward kicked the puck in under the Blues’ goaltender and the game remained tied until the eventual shootout winner by Shattenkirk.
Despite some early struggles, Blues goaltender Jaroslav Halak stopped 33 of 36 shots, several keeping the game close when it could have easily been broken up for a larger New York lead.
Alex Steen finished the game with two assists after suffering an upper-body injury against the Rangers Thursday night. Vladimir Tarasenko netted two goals who, along with line mate Vladimir Sobotka, finished with a +3 rating.
With this victory, the Blues are in second place and closing on division-leading Chicago who are idle Saturday. St. Louis now has 75 points, just one behind the Blackhawks, but with two games in hand.
St. Louis faces the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night in St. Louis. It may be future HOF goaltender Martin Brodeur’s final visit to the Gateway City. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM Central time at Scottrade Center.
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