Friends, it’s good to be back. Been a while since I’ve been able to do these recaps. There is playoff baseball all day and night, so today’s a good day to avoid the rain, stay inside, and sporps it if you have off.
Let’s start with some “drama.” Marc Bergevin attended today’s game, probably to scout future acquisition John Tavares:
(I kid, I kid.)
A game that looked to be a typical, lackluster effort during an Isles day game finally picked up toward the end for the good guys. The blue and orange, outplayed through the first two periods, battled back from being down by two goals to tie it in the third and gain a point from the affair.
The first third of the game appeared rather slow, with the Islanders unable to fly the way they did the other night against Buffalo.
The two teams traded power play opportunities toward the end of the period, but no goals came of it.
Greiss got off to a much better start than he did in Columbus. Though, he’s certainly lucky that St. Louis failed to pot some of the rebounds he left - for example, a Blues power play started with the Islanders taking off on a 3-on-2, but when the play broke up, a 3-on-1 ensued the other way, with Brayden Schenn’s shot ricocheting off Greiss to Vladimir Tarasenko. Thankfully, the puck hopped over his stick, lest he be left with a wide open net.
A chippy first few minutes gave the Islanders a tantalizing opportunity. Brock Nelson’s collision with Colton Parayko led to Robert Bortuzzo receiving two minors - one for initially cross-checking Nelson to the ice, and another for continuing to cross-check him while down. During the 4-minute power play, Josh Ho-Sang, as he is wont to do, dazzled his way down the right side, leading to another St. Louis minor penalty.
However, despite 4:47 of man advantage time - including 1:23 of a 5-on-3 - the Islanders were unable to convert. Mat Barzal can’t seem to buy his first NHL goal - after having his empty-net chance stripped away from him as time wound down against the Sabres, he was robbed by Jake Allen during the power play.
Missed chances, as we’ve seen, have the potential to bite this team in its ass. Not long after the penalty time expired entirely, Tarasenko executed a gorgeous backhand spin-o-rama shot that slipped through Greiss’ five-hole, the Blues drawing first blood in this game.
An Anthony Beauvillier inadvertent high-sticking penalty led to another Tarasenko goal, this one from the right face-off circle. During the course of the zone time, the puck nearly jumped over the blue line. The Islanders challenged the goal for offsides, but reviews were inconclusive at best (the call on the ice “stood”) and the Islanders were given a bench minor for delay of game, which I believe is the first of its kind since the inception of the new rule. There was a bright side, however:
The Isles gained some steam steadily throughout the period, the chances in the offensive zone accumulating. Just when it seemed the Blues goalie would be impossible to beat, Andrew Ladd caught the puck, waited, waited, waited and fired it past a completely screened Allen with about six minutes remaining. Nelson did a fantastic job drawing attention to himself down low to create the screen.
A too-many-men bench minor was deservedly assessed to the Islanders, trapping them in their own zone and taking a bit of the wind out of their sails, but Nick Leddy was finally able to break out with the puck, allowing Greiss to hop off for an extra attacker. Thomas Hickey snuck over the blue line as the sixth man and took an Eberle pass for a ride. The shot popped out to Anders Lee in his office in front of the net, and he sent a spinning backhand of his own past Allen with just under a minute remaining, forcing overtime.
As is the case most times, 3-on-3 overtime featured wide open chances for both sides, in some instances back and forth. One such back-and-forth resulted in a slashing penalty against Leddy that would last almost until the end of the period. Greiss made a couple of ridiculous saves during one sequence on the PK, to the point that I thought both of them were in. Alas, the OT did not result in a goal, so to the skills competition they headed.
Eberle and Beauvillier weren’t able to beat Allen, while Greiss was unable to stop Schenn and Tarasenko. The Blues escape with a 3-2 shootout win in only two rounds.
It seemed like they weren’t going to get anything out of the matinee game, so the point is a welcomed one, and they did it in exciting fashion. It’s only the third game. Lot of season left to play. Gotta capitalize on extended zone and man advantage time, though.
They’re flying out to California for the next week or so, getting their Pacific coast swing out of the way early. They’re back at it in Anaheim on Wednesday night, 10:00 p.m. ET.