Blues take win streak into matchup with IslandersReuters | St. Louis | Updated: 27-02-2020 07:12 IST | Created: 27-02-2020 07:10 IST
The St. Louis Blues will try to build on their five-game winning streak when they play host to the New York Islanders Thursday night. After allowing just two goals in their previous four victories, the Blues had to rally from 3-1 and 5-4 deficits to defeat the visiting Chicago Blackhawks 6-5 at home Tuesday night.
"You've got to win games a lot of different ways throughout the season and this is one of them," Blues coach Craig Berube said afterward. "Crazy game," Blues center Robert Thomas said. "Obviously not our style of play. We have to tighten it up a little bit but happy we got the two points. A lot of run-and-gun, a lot of transition chances, and it's not our game, but we're happy we got the two points."
The Islanders have hit a rough patch, going 2-4-1 in their last seven games. Since winning 4-3 in overtime Jan. 7 at New Jersey, they are just 8-8-4. Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello explored multiple trades before the deadline while seeking to give his team a jolt. He acquired center Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Ottawa Senators Monday for first- and second-round draft picks, plus a potential third-rounder.
Pageau quickly signed a six-year contract with the Islanders to bypass free agency. He scored in his Islanders' debut, a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday night. He also instigated a fight with Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba after Trouba knocked forward Michael Dal Colle out of the game with a big hit.
"We wanted him, we got him for six years, he's impactful and he changes our team in so many ways," Islanders coach Barry Trotz said of Pageau. "You saw how he stepped up. What a great pickup by Lou. The (traded draft) picks are nothing. A lot of picks never play and we have a solid guy and he fits right into our team. You saw his character, how he plays, his smarts and all that. He's going to be impactful for us. I'm glad he's on our side." The Blues will look to get back to their tight-checking game against the Islanders, particularly on the penalty kill. They killed all 16 power plays they faced during a five-game span before allowing the Blackhawks to score three times with the man advantage.
"We know that was an issue tonight," center Ryan O'Reilly said. "We're usually better than that on the penalty kill. We gave up way too much. We left (goaltender Jordan Binnington) out to dry there. We're usually better and we shut it down, keep it to the outside and not give them that many point-blank opportunities. It's an adjustment that we have to make, and I think we will." Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov is 10-10-3 in his career against the Blues with a 2.32 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage.
Varlamov was not in goal Oct. 14 when the Islanders won the previous meeting between these teams 3-2 in overtime at home. Thomas Griess made 21 saves that day. Binnington took the loss for the Blues. Also, St. Louis defenseman Jay Bouwmeester said Wednesday that he will miss the rest of the season due to the cardiac incident he suffered earlier this month. The 36-year-old collapsed during a road game against the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 11, and doctors used a defibrillator to revive him before transporting him to a nearby hospital.
Dal Colle and defenseman Andy Greene are questionable to play for the Islanders on Thursday after sustaining upper-body injuries Tuesday.