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Blues rally late in third, edge Islanders in shootout

by Brian Compton

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- They were forced to go the distance, but the St. Louis Blues completed a successful four-game road trip Saturday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The Blues erased 2-0 and 3-2 deficits and Kevin Shattenkirk scored in the third round of the shootout to lift St. Louis to a 4-3 victory against the New York Islanders.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice and T.J. Oshie erased a 3-2 deficit with 26.7 seconds left in regulation for St. Louis, which went 3-1-0 on the trip. Jaroslav Halak made 33 saves for the victory. Alexander Steen had two assists and scored in the second round of the shootout.

"We've been working hard on this road trip," Oshie said. "We had a tough game in New Jersey, but other than that, we've been playing pretty good team hockey. It's gonna be good feelings on the plane going back."

Thomas Vanek, Kyle Okposo and Matt Martin scored for the Islanders, who once again failed to protect a multigoal lead on home ice. Kevin Poulin made 32 saves.

The Islanders were awarded a power play with 2:16 left in overtime when Blues forward Jaden Schwartz tripped Thomas Hickey in the neutral zone.

They thought they had the game won with 1:15 left when Vanek redirected a shot past Halak. But after a lengthy video review, it was determined Vanek had kicked the puck over the goal line with his left skate. Vanek was still fuming at the decision after the game.

"My foot was on the ice the whole time," he said. "It hit my skate blade and spun right in."

"They're not going to make a mistake when that goes to Toronto," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "They got 25 sets of eyes looking at it; they're not going to make a mistake."

New York got on the board first when Vanek scored 4:01 into the game. With the teams at even strength, Okposo seized control of the puck from Steen and chipped it in front to Vanek. The Isles sniper quickly fired a wrister past Halak for his 19th goal of the season.

Okposo doubled the Islanders' lead with 4:49 remaining in the first period. Vanek sent the puck off left wing around the net for Okposo, who caught Halak moving to his left and quickly stuffed the puck past the Blues goaltender on a wraparound to make it 2-0. It was Okposo's 22nd goal of the season.

"We were not ready from the beginning," Halak said. "They lead 2-0, [but] I think our guys deserve credit because they tried to get us back in the game, especially Vladdie Tarasenko. A big two goals for us."

Tarasenko cut New York's lead in half during a 4-on-4 situation at 17:17 of the first. The 22-year-old took a pass from Maxim Lapierre and let go what seemed to be a harmless wrist shot from the slot that found its way past Poulin to make it 2-1.

New York outshot St. Louis 13-8 in the first period.

Tarasenko tied things up 1:17 into the second with his 17th goal of the season. Shattenkirk one-timed a shot from the top of the right circle that Poulin denied with his pads, but Steen collected the rebound and fed Tarasenko in the slot, where he beat Poulin with a wrister to make it 2-2.

"He's just a great player," Hitchcock said. "Him and Schwartz, they're 21 and 22 years old, they're great players. They're competitive, they're skilled, they're just great players."

With the shootout loss, the Islanders fell to 6-3-5 in games this season when they've led 2-0.

"We had the lead with 20 seconds left and didn't get the job done," New York captain John Tavares said. "It's come to bite us back this year when we don't play right to the end."

Martin put the Islanders back in front with his fourth goal of the season at 3:58 of the second. The rugged forward cruised into the slot and completed a tic-tac-toe passing display with Casey Cizikas and Colin McDonald by one-timing McDonald's feed past Halak for his second goal in the past three games.

Poulin preserved the one-goal lead midway through the second, when he fought off a crowd of players in front, stretched across the crease and robbed Steen with his right pad.

St. Louis was inches away from tying the game nine minutes into the third period when Steen collected a rebound right in front and caught Poulin out of position, but his wrist shot hit each goal post and failed to cross the goal line.

Oshie had a golden opportunity about eight minutes later, but his wrister from the slot also hit each goal post without going in. The play was reviewed at the next whistle, but replays concluded the puck never crossed the goal line.

"The bench was right up four times thinking we've scored and it's not in," Hitchcock said. "We spent the whole third period calling upstairs, 'did that one go in, did that one go in?' and it didn't. You're gonna get those games. I really thought even in the last 1:40 that we were still gonna get it tied up. We had so much zone time going and patience with the puck, some good things."

Oshie had a second chance in the final minute of regulation and didn't miss again. The U.S. Olympian took a pass from Alex Pietrangelo, spun around and fired a wrist shot from the slot past Poulin to make it 3-3 at 19:33.

"The puck seemed to have eyes," Tavares said. "We knew they would make a push in the third period."

The Islanders will host the Boston Bruins on Monday before facing the New York Rangers on Wednesday as part of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Yankee Stadium (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2, RDS2).

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

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