UNIONDALE, NY - When the Blues wrap up a four-game road swing Saturday against the New York Islanders, it’ll be a day of firsts and lasts.
FIRST: The Blues will get a look at Jaroslav Halak for the first time since trading him to the Buffalo Sabres in February in a deal that brought Ryan Miller and Steve Ott to St. Louis. Since then, Halak was again traded to the Washington Capitals, where he finished last season before eventually signing as a free agent with the Islanders.
On Thursday, Halak set an Islanders franchise record with his 11th consecutive win, breaking a record set by Hall of Fame goaltender Billy Smith that had stood since 1982. In those 11 games, Halak has given up just 14 goals.
“It’s always nice, but I would say I’m not here to chase any records or anything,” Halak told reporters after the game Thursday. “I’m here to have fun, play hockey and try to help the guys win the game.”
The Islanders are winners of three straight and have won eight of their last nine contests.
LAST: Barring a meeting in the Stanley Cup Final in June, the Blues will play their last game at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum today.
With their lease set to expire at the end of the season, the Islanders will leave the 42-year-old venue for the 15,795-seat Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The Blues have won five of their last seven games at Nassau. All-time though, the Blues are 16-27-11.
“It’s a new era for the Islanders next year, so I know they’re playing as an inspired team right now,” Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “They’re playing probably their best hockey in years and they’ve put together a good solid group of young guys and young leaders on this team who had their taste in the playoffs and they want to get back there.
“Hopefully we can grab another win in this building before they move on and we have to play them in Brooklyn.”
THE LAST MEETING
The Blues and Islanders last met at Nassau Coliseum on Jan. 25. Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice, but the Blues still trailed 3-2 in the third period and piled up some great scoring chances while trying to tie the game.
Alexander Steen had a wide-open net midway through the third period, but Isles goalie Kevin Poulin made a miraculous stick save to preserve the lead. Minutes later, T.J. Oshie beat Poulin but hit both goal posts with his shot.
Finally, with 26.7 seconds left on the clock, Oshie buried his second chance to force overtime tied 3-3.
“Actually what happened was I fanned on it a little bit,” Oshie said. “I faked a little half slapshot, turned over and didn’t quite get all of the puck, but it found the net.”
Thomas Vanek nearly ended it in overtime, but the goal was disallowed because officials determined he kicked the puck into the net.
Shattenkirk would eventually score the game-deciding goal in a shootout to help the Blues to a 4-3 win.
“Shatty’s a ‘homer,’ so we knew it was going in,” Oshie recalled while watching from the bench. “(It was) a really great move. You don’t usually see d-men go in for shootouts, but he made a great forehand deke and put it top shelf.”
As the Blues look to write the final chapter in their history at Nassau, they’re hoping Saturday’s story will be a real page-turner.
“You always want to get a win no matter where it is,” Oshie said. “But to say the last game we played in this building was a ‘W,’ it would be special.”
Barret Jackman will appear in his 750th NHL game tonight, all of which have been with the Blues.
Shattenkirk, a New Rochelle, NY native, has a goal and two assists in four career road games against New York teams.
Oshie has points in four straight games against the Islanders (two goals, five assists).
The Blues are 2-0-0 this season in day games and 7-1-0 on Saturdays.