Isles shoot for payback in St. Louis

( – Having failed to hold leads in two straight losses, the
New York Islanders hope for a little payback on Thursday night in a rematch
with the St. Louis Blues.

The Islanders have held first-period leads of 3-0 in each of their past two
games, only to see the opposition rally back for wins. New York held leads of
3-0 and 4-3 in a loss to the Blues on Saturday, then failed to hold a 4-1
advantage in Tuesday’s 5-4 setback to the Minnesota Wild.

With Jaroslav Halak scratched from his start in net with an upper-body injury,
Chad Johnson got the call for New York versus Minnesota and made 25 saves. The
Wild scored four goals off him in the third period to rally in front.

Josh Bailey, Matt Martin, Brock Nelson and Michael Grabner all lit the lamp
for the Islanders, who have lost two in a row for the first time since a
season-high three-game slide from Oct. 28-Nov. 1.

It is unknown if Halak will return to action or if Johnson will get another
start tonight.

Halak, who spent three-plus seasons with the Blues before getting traded
during the 2013-14 campaign, gave up all six goals on 40 shots in Saturday’s
loss, falling to 0-1-1 with a 4.34 goals against average and .868 save
percentage in two games versus his former club.

Johnson also is 0-1-1 in two meetings with the Blues, but with a solid 1.97
GAA and .926 save percentage.

Jake Allen will get the start in net for the Blues tonight also looking at a
chance to rebound. He was pulled following the first period of Saturday’s win
for allowing three goals on 12 shots faced in his first career appearance
against New York.

Paul Stastny scored twice, while both Kevin Shattenkirk and Joakim Lindstrom
had three points in the win over the Islanders, the Blues’ fourth straight and
seventh in the past nine meetings in this series.

Grabner and John Tavares were among the goal-scorers for the Islanders, who
have been outscored 14-3 in losing their past three trips to St. Louis.

Martin Brodeur got the win over the Islanders on Saturday in relieving Allen
and he then made his home debut on Monday night in a 4-2 victory over the
Florida Panthers. Brodeur made 32 saves, while Chris Porter had the game-
winner with 1:54 to play.

“It wasn’t pretty, but we got it done,” said Brodeur following his 690th
career win. “There’s games that are going to be a lot easier to win, but this
one was a tough one.”

Stastny, Maxim Lapierre and Ian Cole added goals in St. Louis’ second straight
win and sixth in its past nine.

Alexander Steen missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury, but
skated on Wednesday and could return to the lineup tonight.

However, fellow forward David Backes is questionable after taking a puck to
the mouth in Monday’s win. He did not skate on Wednesday.

St. Louis has gone 5-0-1 in its past six at home and 9-1-1 in the last 11.