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Islanders get tough road trip going against Blues

Wednesday, 12.04.2013 / 4:18 PM

ISLANDERS (8-15-5) at BLUES (18-5-3)

TV: MSG PLUS, FS-MW

Last 10: New York 2-6-2; St. Louis 7-3-0

Season series: This is the first of two games this season between the New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues. They haven't played since Feb. 16, 2012, when Alex Pietrangelo set up three goals and Brian Elliott made 26 saves in a 5-1 Blues win in St. Louis.

Big story: The Islanders have been knocking on the door of a much-needed win in several games of late, but they carry an 0-5-2 skid into a difficult five-game road trip that begins Thursday at Scottrade Center. The journey continues with games against all three California teams and ends with a date against the Phoenix Coyotes. All five teams the Islanders play would qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they started today.

Team Scope:

Islanders: Three nights after giving up the tying shorthanded goal in the final minute of regulation before losing in overtime, New York dropped another game in frustrating fashion Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In a rematch of an exciting first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series from last spring, Kyle Okposo scored twice in a span of 3:02 in the first period to stake the Islanders to a 2-0 lead. But they gave up a late power-play goal to James Neal in the second, and then Sidney Crosby notched both the tying power-play goal in the third and the OT winner to send the Isles to a 3-2 defeat.

"We can talk about we did some good things, [but] we just didn't get the job done at the end of the day," captain John Tavares said. "That's what matters most."

Blues: For the first time this season, St. Louis has gone consecutive games without picking up a point. The Blues, who will start Jaroslav Halak in goal, start Thursday in second place in the Central Division, one point ahead of the Colorado Avalanche and two in front of the Minnesota Wild.

When the Blues score first they're almost unbeatable at 15-1-2, but against the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings they spent their time playing catch-up and coming up short.

"We just played two great teams, teams that are going to be in the playoffs at the end of the year. We have to realize that our game isn't there right now," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It's a learning experience more than anything. It's still early enough in the season that we can grow and become a championship-caliber team, and that's what we have to take away from this."

Who's hot: Tavares, who assisted on both of Okposo's goals Tuesday, is tied for third in the NHL with 32 points. … Shattenkirk and Vladimir Tarasenko each had a goal and an assist for the Blues against the Sharks. Jaden Schwartz had an assist and now has three goals and five assists during a seven-game point streak.

Injury report: New York has goalie Evgeni Nabokov (groin) and defensemen Brian Strait (upper body) and Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) on injured reserve. Nabokov and Strait have been skating with the team. … St. Louis forward Magnus Paajarvi (flu-like symptoms) is day-to-day. Defenseman Jordan Leopold (hand) and forward Ryan Reaves (hand) are on injured reserve.

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