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Game Preview: Islanders vs. Blues

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders
It only took Jaroslav Halak 18 games to write himself into the Islanders record books, setting the franchise record for consecutive wins with his 11th straight triumph Thursday night in Ottawa.


“Honestly I wasn't even focusing on records or anything,” Halak said following Friday’s practice at Islanders Iceworks. “obviously it's a big accomplishment, but at the same time I would say I wouldn't have been able to do it without my teammates. Everyone is a big part of it.”

Halak will put his streak on the line when he likely faces off against his former team, the St. Louis Blues, in a 1 p.m. matinee today at Nassau Coliseum.

The Islanders goaltender spent four seasons with the Blues from 2010 to 2014 going 83-47-19 in 159 contests. Halak had a successful run in St. Louis, co-winning the Jennings Trophy in 2011-12 (with Brian Elliott) for fewest goals against during the regular season, but was traded to the Buffalo Sabres for Ryan Miller last spring.

Halak was then flipped to the Washington Capitals before signing with the Islanders over the offseason. Should he start, Saturday will be his first game against his former team since the trades.

“I had a great time there,” Halak said. “It was a big part of my career; really good people. But, I'm here now. [Being traded] is part of the business.”

Halak said there won’t be an advantage either way between him and the Blues shooters. He said he knows them just as well as they know him. Plus, there are some new faces that weren’t around – like Paul Stastny – when he played under the arch.

One player that Halak did talk about was Blues leading scorer, Vladimir Tarasenko.

“He's like a full package and strong on the puck,” Halak said about the 22-year-old right winger. “He can score, he can shoot the puck hard and he's good on the power play.”

Tarasenko has 28 points (16 goals, 12 assists) in 26 games for the Blues this season and was named the NHL’s second star of November. Tarasenko is dazzling the NHL during his breakout season and already has several goal of the year candidates. He’ll be the Blues top offensive threat come puck drop.

The Blues enter today’s matinee having lost two straight road games. The big story has been in goal, as the Blues signed all-time wins leader Martin Brodeur to a one-year deal. Brodeur spent 21 seasons with the New Jersey Devils, racking up 688 wins, 124 shutouts, three Stanley Cups and four Vezina trophies. The future Hall-of-Famer lost his Blues debut, stopping 20-of-24 shots in a 4-3 loss to the Nashville Predators. Head Coach Ken Hitchcock announced that Jake Allen would start in goal for the Blues.

The Islanders enter the game having won three straight, as well as 13 of their last 15 overall. They look to improve that number, as well as continue Halak’s streak at 1 p.m.

New York Islanders
19-7-0 (38 points – 1st in Metropolitan Division, 2nd in Eastern Conference)
10-2-0 home
St. Louis Blues
16-8-2 (34 points - 2nd in Central Division, T-5th in Western Conference)
7-5-1 road
7:00 p.m.
Nassau Coliseum
Uniondale, NY

Television:
MSG+
Play-by-play: Howie Rose
; Color: Butch Goring
Channel Finder

Radio: WRHU 88.7 FM, LI News Radio 103.9 FM
Play-by-play: Chris King
Islanders News:
- Pulock's Next Stop, Long Island (Dec. 5)
- Islanders Recall Pulock (Dec. 5)
- Islanders 2, Senators 1 (Dec. 4)

What's Happening at the Coliseum:
- Lower Lobby – 11:00 p.m.
- Doors – 11:45 p.m.
- Bobby Nystrom Mini-Locker Day


Islanders player to watch
Brock Nelson - Forward

Nelson scored his team-leading 12th goal of the season Thursday, helping the Islanders to a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators. Nelson’s 23 points (12 goals, 11 assists) are tied with captain John Tavares for the team scoring lead. The second-year center is two goals and three points shy of matching his totals from his rookie campaign. Nelson has shuffled between center and wing this season, but has three points in his last two games centering the “kid line” with Anders Lee and Ryan Strome.
Blues player to watch
Vladimir Tarasenko - Forward

Valdimir Tarasenko is taking the NHL by storm, dazzling the league with flashy moves and highlight reel goals. The third-year winger is second in the NHL with 16 goals and sixth in the points race with 28. How big is Tarasenko’s breakout? He’s five goals shy of his career best (21) set in 64 games last season. Tarasenko is St. Louis’ top offensive threat, six points ahead of the Blues’ second leading scorer. Tarasenko has four goals and one assist in his last five games.
New York Islanders previous game lines
Forwards
86 Nikolay Kulemin
91 John Tavares 21 Kyle Okposo
40 Michael Grabner51 Frans Nielsen84 Mikhail Grabovski
27 Anders Lee
29 Brock Nelson 18 Ryan Strome
17 Matt Martin
– 
53 Casey Cizikas 89 Cory Conacher

Defensemen

2 Nick Leddy 46 Matt Donovan
44 Calvin de Haan
8 Griffin Reinhart
14 Thomas Hickey 37 Brian Strait

Goaltenders
41 Jaroslav Halak
30 Chad Johnson
St. Louis Blues previous game lines
Forwards
20 Alex Steen - 42 David Backes - 74 T.J. Oshie
17 Jaden Schwartz - 12 Jori Lehtera - 91 Vladimir Tarasenko
21 Patrik Berglund - 26 Paul Stastny - 9 Steve Ott
Petteri Lindbohm - 40 Maxim Lapierre - 75 Ryan Reaves

Defensemen
5 Barret Jackman - 27 Alex Pietrangelo
4 Carl Gunnarsson - 22 Kevin Shattenkirk
25 Chris Butler - 28 Ian Cole

Goaltender
34 Jake Allen
30 Martin Brodeur


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