Isles aim for another road win at St. Louis
Wednesday, 02.15.2012 / 10:02 PMISLANDERS (24-24-8) at BLUES (34-15-7)
TV: MSG PLUS, FS-MW
: New York 5-3-2; St. Louis 6-3-1
: This is the lone meeting of the season between the two teams. It is the eighth meeting since the work stoppage in 2004-05, and the Islanders have scored at least five goals in each of their three victories in the series.
: St. Louis is trying to keep pace with Detroit near the top of the Western Conference, while New York is trying to climb closer to the eighth spot in the East.
: New York hasn't been able to string wins together, but it also hasn't lost back-to-back contests in regulation in more than a month. Considering how none of the teams outside the top six in the East seem to want to grab control of one of the final two playoff spots, that means the Islanders have slowly crept back into contention.
The Isles are 10-5-2 since a 5-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Jan. 7. They were in last place in the East and 12 points shy of eighth after that loss, but now the Islanders are six back of the No. 8 spot five weeks later.
: After a 9-0-1 run, St. Louis was one point shy of Detroit in the NHL on Jan. 21. The next game was a 3-1 loss to Detroit, and the Red Wings have been rolling since then, so even a respectable 5-3-1 stretch has meant the Blues lost ground on the Wings.
St. Louis still has the fourth-most points in the NHL, but it is five back of Detroit (though the Blues do have two games in hand). The Blues also have four fewer games remaining against teams in the top six of either conference (Detroit has 14 of its final 24 against those teams).
: Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov
has won eight of his past 11 starts, and he's yielded zero or one goal in each of the past seven victories. Of course, no goaltender is hotter than St. Louis' Jaroslav Halak
-- he's won nine of 12 starts in 2012 and has five shutouts.
: Goaltender Rick DiPietro
(groin) is out of for the season, and the Islanders are also without defensemen Travis Hamonic
(nose), Mike Mottau
(concussion) and Dylan Reese
: The Islanders' forwards have collected 71 points on the power play, and the trio of John Tavares
, Matt Moulson
and PA Parenteau
has been on the ice for 60 of them. New York's defenseman have combined for 25 extra-man points, and Mark Streit
has been on the ice when 21 of them were registered.
St. Louis welcomed one of its two key forwards missing because of injury back in Andy McDonald
, but how important could the return of Alex Steen
be? Steen has been on the ice for 31 goals for at even strength and only 11 against. He's been on for 3.54 per 60 minutes, which is the best on the team and his 1.26 goals against per 60 minutes is fifth among the team's forwards. The difference there (2.28) is the best in the NHL among forwards who have played at least 30 games.
: Not only has David Perron
been a huge boost to the Blues' offense since he returned from a concussion, he also proved to be a good sport after the team's 2-1 loss to Columbus on Tuesday. Perron scored a goal with 2.2 seconds left to tie the game at two, but after a review of the play it was waived off and Columbus prevailed.
"They made the right call," Perron said after the game. "I fell down and kind of hit the puck with my hand and it went in. They made the right call."