Nabokov Sits Due To Illness, Blues Toy With Islanders
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Alex Pietrangelo and the St. Louis Blues were eager to get back to work after a loss Tuesday night in Columbus.
“It’s a great answer after that game in Columbus,” Pietrangelo said after picking up three assists in a 5-1 victory over the New York Islanders Thursday night.
The Blues had dropped a 2-1 decision against the Blue Jackets, who have the NHL’s worst record. It wasn’t the result one of the top teams in the Western Conference expected.
“We were just really disappointed the other night in Columbus,” said winger Andy McDonald, who scored his first goal of the season Thursday. “We just didn’t have the effort we wanted in Columbus and we talked about before the game that we needed a big night tonight.”
McDonald has played only six games after missing 51 with a concussion.
T.J. Oshie also had goal and an assist as he and Pietrangelo tied their career highs for points in a game. Kevin Shattenkirk, Jason Arnott and David Perron also scored.
Brian Elliott made 26 saves, allowing only Frans Nielsen’s goal. Elliott has 19 victories this season.
“Our best player tonight was our goalie. Our goalie was terrific,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “Our goalie was our best player the last game that we lost.
“We’re giving up far too many chances. We’re getting beat in areas that we haven’t gotten beat at in all year and we’re going to have to address it and get going, get a little bit better.”
The Blues have points in a team-record 20 straight home games (17-0-3) and have 25 home wins, one more that the Detroit Red Wings for most in the league (25-3-4). They’re 27-0-0 when scoring three goals or more.
The Islanders’ road winning streak ended at four.
“It’s a game of momentum,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “It’s a game of surges. We went through a little bit of a lapse.”
Nielsen gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead just 59 seconds into the game, corralling his own rebound when his initial shot was blocked by Shattenkirk, then lifting the puck over Elliott.
“It didn’t start the way we wanted with a bit of a slow start, but once we got our legs going, it was four lines, 60 (minutes) and (Elliott) played a great game again,” Pietrangelo said.
The Blues came back with two goals to grab a 2-1 lead on goals by Arnott and Shattenkirk.
Arnott was able to lift a shot in tight over Al Montoya’s left shoulder with 5:20 left in the period to tie it. Then, on their first power play of the game, Shattenkirk’s first goal in 16 games on a one-timer squirted through Montoya with 2:48 left in the period for a 2-1 lead. Backes supplied the screen in front.
The Blues kept up the pressure in the second, with McDonald getting his first of the season for a 3-1 lead, but the key sequence came at the other end.
Elliott’s key pad stop on Jay Pandolfo prevented the Islanders from tying the game, and the Blues were on the attack with an odd-man rush. Montoya stopped Jamie Langenbrunner’s initial shot, but McDonald crashed the goal and backhanded the rebound in at 2:53.
“It’s 3-1 and at this time of year, it comes down to special teams,” Capuano said. “It’s huge and they executed tonight on their power play and we had some chances to get back in it and it just wasn’t there for us tonight.”
Perron’s tip of Pietrangelo’s shot from the right point 8:52 into the period made it 4-1, making the Blues 2 for 2 on their first power plays.
Oshie tipped Pietrangelo’s point shot from the slot through Montoya’s pads with 5:07 left for the Blues’ fifth goal on only their 19th shot of the game.
“It’s my job to stop those,” said Montoya, a surprise starter after Evgeni Nabokov came down with the stomach flu earlier in the day. “It’s a tight game, it’s a game of bounces right there. A save here and a save there could have been huge and could have turned the tide either way.”
The Blues needed to kill off three New York power plays in the third period and maybe let up a bit after grabbing a four-goal lead, but finished off another win.
“That’s what we were looking for for sure,” Oshie said. “Our start of the game was a little bit of a concern up to about the last five minutes of the first period, but from then on, everyone was going, everyone was playing good, getting back to that north game and coming back hard.”
NOTES: The Blues are the only team in either conference to be unbeaten in regulation against the opposing conference. They are 12-0-2 against the East and 13-0-2 dating to last season. … Arnott (shoulder) and D Kent Huskins (ankle) were activated from injured reserve Thursday. … After earning 21 points in 12 straight games, Islanders C John Tavares has two assists in eight games. … The Islanders were the last Eastern Conference team to beat the Blues in regulation.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)