Blues top Isles, 5-1, for another home win

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:50 AM

ST. LOUIS -- If the St. Louis Blues want a quick fix following a loss, just bring in an Eastern Conference opponent.

The Blues continue to feast on the East. But they also wanted to get back on the saddle after falling off the horse with a loss Tuesday against NHL-worst Columbus.

T.J. Oshie and Alex Pietrangelo tied career highs in points, Oshie with a goal and an assist and Pietrangelo with three assists as the Blues blew past the New York Islanders 5-1 Thursday night.  

Andy McDonald scored his first goal of the season, and Kevin Shattenkirk and David Perron also scored as the Blues moved within three points of Western Conference-leading Detroit with 77 points. Brian Elliott stopped 26 shots for his 19th win of the season.

The Blues (35-15-7) improved to 12-0-2 against the East this season and are 13-0-2 dating back to last season. They are the only team in either conference without a regulation loss against the opposite conference. In fact, the Islanders (24-25-8) are the last team from the East to beat the Blues in regulation, a 5-2 victory on Long Island last March.

The Blues have points in 20 straight home games (17-0-3), and they now have 25 home wins, one more that the Red Wings for most in the League (25-3-4). They are 27-0-0 when scoring three goals or more.

"We kept it pretty simple. We scored four goals from just shots and tips," Pietrangelo said. "Doing what we do best, just putting pucks to the net, getting in front of the goalie, banging and crashing. Every line contributed. A lot of guys answered the call tonight. It was a good response after the game in Columbus."

Frans Nielsen scored 59 seconds into the game for the Islanders, who saw their four-game road winning streak snapped. Surprise starter Al Montoya stopped 21 shots -- he got the call when Evgeni Nabokov and defenseman Steve Staios were last-minute scratches with the stomach flu.

"Good-sized team," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said of the Blues. "Good goaltending, and I can see why they've had success here."

As Pietrangelo said, the Blues were able to practice what they preached. They preached shooting the puck at the net, specifically off the goalie's pads, and pounce on rebounds. There were tip-drill goals from Perron and Oshie on the night, and Backes provided screens on Montoya throughout the game.

"We've got a team built for simplicity, but the skill's there," Pietrangelo said. "When we're playing our simple game, the skilled players are going to be the skilled players. Look at Osh's goal, Perry's goal, (David) Backes ... you can go on and on. Everybody has the skill to play that game. When we're playing the hard-nosed skill game like we can, we're a tough team to beat."

The Islanders were able to go up 1-0 even though the Blues had the best chance in an eventful first minute of the game.

"Our start of the game was a little bit of a concern up to about the last five minutes of the first period, but from then on, everyone was going, everyone was playing good, getting back to that north game and coming back hard," Oshie said.

Nielsen was able to coral his own rebound after Kevin Shattenkirk blocked his initial shot and scoop it over Elliott's right shoulder at the near post just 59 seconds into the game.

But the Blues came back with two goals for a 2-1 lead after one. Arnott's 13th of the season tied it when he lifted a shot from Montoya's right in tight over his left shoulder at 15:40. Arnott returned to the lineup after missing six games with a left shoulder injury.

Shattenkirk's first goal in 16 games came off a one-timer from the left point that got through the pads of Montoya. The power play goal came at 17:12 for a 2-1 St. Louis lead, with Backes supplying the screen in front.

The Blues kept up the pressure in the second as McDonald, playing in his third game after missing 51 with a concussion, got his first of the season for a 3-1 lead, but the key sequence came at the other end. Elliott's key pad stop on Jay Pandolfo prevented the Islanders from tying the game, and the Blues were on the attack with an odd-man rush. Montoya stopped Jamie Langenbrunner's initial shot, but McDonald crashed the goal and backhanded the rebound in at 2:53.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock felt the final score didn't reflect how well Elliott played -- the Islanders generated a lot of Grade-A chances but couldn't beat Elliott after Nielsen's early goal.

"Our best player tonight was our goalie. Our goalie was terrific," Hitchcock said of Elliott, who has an NHL-best 1.61 goals-against average as well as a League-best .940 save percentage. "Our goalie was our best player the last game that we lost.

"We're giving up far too many chances. We're getting beat in areas that we haven't gotten beat at in all year and we're going to have to address it and get going, get a little bit better."

The Blues showed no mercy to Montoya. Perron's tip of a Pietrangelo shot from the right point 8:52 into the period made it 4-1, making the Blues a perfect 2-for-2 on their first pair of power plays. Oshie tipped another Pietrangelo point shot from the slot through Montoya's pads with 5:07 left for the Blues' fifth goal on only their 19th shot of the game.

"It's my job to be ready at any time," Montoya said. "Tonight's one that I want back but you know, the puck had eyes. It was finding its way through. It's tough to come away with this one and I could have had a better game, but I look it over and put it behind me."

The Blues come away with a win but know they can clean up some areas.

"It was a 5-1 win, but it wasn't a 5-1 game," Hitchcock said. "They had their chances, lots of chances. We had chances. I thought we were slow out of the blocks and then got going. Once we got caught up to the tempo, I think the start of the game, we had the debris from the last game. I thought we picked it up through the midpoint and then they took over in the third when they got the power plays.

"We're happy with the win, but we're leaving here in firm grasp of what we need to get better at quickly here. ... It was one of those games where it's nice to win from us, but now what we need to work on is really defining. We'll get to work on that tomorrow."
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