(SportsNetwork.com) – The St. Louis Blues hope to put a positive ending on a
four-game road trip as they attempt to cool off the red-hot New York Islanders
in Saturday’s matinee battle at Nassau Coliseum.
After winning the opener of this swing at Minnesota, the Blues have suffered
consecutive regulation defeats in Chicago and Nashville, but St. Louis hopes
its recent success against the Islanders translates to a victory this
The Blues have won three straight and five of the last six meetings against
New York overall and have claimed two of three and five of the past seven
encounters on Long Island.
Of course, St. Louis won’t be facing the same old struggling Islanders, as New
York enters this showdown as the top team in the Metropolitan Division with 38
points through 26 games.
The Isles come into Saturday having won three straight, eight of nine and
13 of their last 15 games. New York also is 10-2-0 as the host this season and
has won seven straight at the Coliseum since losing to Winnipeg on Oct. 28.
New York recently took both games in a home-and-home series against Ottawa,
completing the sweep with Thursday’s win in Canada’s capital.
Casey Cizikas provided the difference in Thursday’s 2-1 victory, notching the
game-winning goal with 6:27 remaining in the third period. Thomas Hickey set
up the go-ahead goal with a centering pass that hit off a Senators defenseman
and went straight to an uncovered Cizikas, who ripped a shot from the right
circle past Craig Anderson.
“It was huge,” Cizikas said. “(Hickey) found me backdoor with a nice pass and
I was able to get it off quick enough. Might not have been the hardest shot,
but it went in.”
Brock Nelson added a goal for the hard-charging Islanders, who hold a two-
point lead over Pittsburgh for first place in the Metro.
Jaroslav Halak posted 20 saves to set a team record with his 11th consecutive
win between the pipes, eclipsing Billy Smith’s previous team mark. Halak is
14-4-0 this season and 11-0 since last losing on Nov. 1 in San Jose.
Halak expects to start again this afternoon, as he faces his old team for the
first time since the Blues traded him last season.
The 29-year-old Slovakian spent four productive seasons in St. Louis after the
Blues acquired Halak from the Montreal Canadiens in June 2010. Halak is St.
Louis’ all-time leader in shutouts with 20 and is fifth in the club annals
with 83 wins.
Halak was shipped to Buffalo at last season’s trade deadline before signing a
four-deal to join the Islanders after the 2013-14 campaign. His only career
appearance against the Blues came on March 18, 2008 when Halak yielded 25
shots and took the loss in overtime for Montreal.
St. Louis probably wouldn’t mind having Halak back on Saturday. Not just
because the netminder is having tremendous success with the Islanders, but
also due to an injury to Blues No. 1 goaltender Brian Elliott.
Elliott’s sprained knee is expected to keep him out for a few weeks, but in
the meantime St. Louis had to sign veteran Martin Brodeur to help young
goaltender Jake Allen shoulder the workload.
Brodeur, an obvious future Hall of Famer, played his first career game for a
team other than the New Jersey Devils on Thursday and the 42-year-old yielded
four goals on 24 shots in a loss to Nashville.
Playing for the first time since April 13, Brodeur was immediately tested by
Colin Wilson, but he made consecutive stops on the Nashville forward 50
seconds into the game for his first two saves with the Blues.
“You never know how (a game) will start, but getting some work right from the
get-go, I was happy to feel the puck and feel the game and feel the pressure
of the team coming at me,” said Brodeur.
Wilson, however, would get the last laugh, as he beat Brodeur for the eventual
game-winner on a breakaway midway through the third period.
Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice for St. Louis, which will try to avoid its
first three-game slide of the season today.
The Blues are 7-5-1 as the visiting team this season. They will open a two-
game homestand Monday against Florida before capping the brief residency with
a rematch versus the Isles on Thursday.