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Blues aim to snap slump vs. improved Islanders

by Louie Korac

BLUES (16-8-2) at ISLANDERS (19-7-0)


Season series: The St. Louis Blues and New York Islanders will play the first of two games in a span of six days; the rematch is Thursday in St. Louis. The Blues won both games against the Islanders last season, including 4-3 in a shootout on Jan. 25 at Nassau Coliseum when Alexander Steen and Kevin Shattenkirk scored in the tiebreaker after T.J. Oshie forced overtime by scoring with 26.7 seconds remaining in regulation.

Blues team scope: The Blues limp into Nassau Coliseum on the heels of back-to-back Central Division losses, 4-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks and 4-3 to the Nashville Predators. Goalie Martin Brodeur made his debut for the Blues against the Predators, stopping 20 shots in the loss. "I think we're playing good teams and we're making big errors," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "... We made huge mistakes in Chicago and we made big mistakes here [against Nashville] and they cost us, again." Jake Allen, who took the loss against the Blackhawks, will start in goal. Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (groin) has been skating but will miss his seventh straight game after playing in 737 consecutive games.

Islanders team scope: He's on his third team since being traded last season prior to the NHL Trade Deadline, but goalie Jaroslav Halak will get the chance to face his former team for the first time. Halak set a franchise record Thursday by winning his 11th consecutive game, 2-1 against the Ottawa Senators. "It's always nice, but I would say I'm not here to chase any records or anything," Halak said after the game. "I'm here to have fun, play hockey and try to help the guys win the game." The Islanders have won three in a row and eight of their past nine. "The mentality right from the start has been defense first," said coach Jack Capuano, whose team is an NHL-best 12-1-0 in one-goal games. The Islanders on Friday recalled Ryan Pulock from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League after placing defenseman Travis Hamonic (upper body) on injured reserve. Hamonic joins top-six defensemen Johnny Boychuk (upper body) and Lubomir Visnovsky (upper body) on IR.

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