The Blues have to be happy to be done playing the Islanders this season.
Twice, the Blues carried the play for stretches of the game and the Islanders had trouble sustaining offensive zone pressure or just getting the puck down low.
But twice the Islanders came away with victories.
“It was a little bit of an ugly game,” Islanders center Mathew Barzal said. “Not many chances really created. They’ve got a good team over there. A hard checking, good team.”
But Barzal’s feed from the neutral zone sprung Valtteri Filppula for the overtime winner at 1:37 to culminate the Islanders’ puck-possession clinic in the three-on-three extra period in a 2-1 victory on Tuesday night at Barclays Center. The Islanders conclude their four-game homestand on Thursday night against the Devils at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.
Robin Lehner stopped 30 shots for the Islanders (26-15-4), who were coming off Sunday night’s impressive 5-1 win over the NHL-leading Lightning and have now won 12 of 15.
“We had a heck of a game against Tampa and we’ve got to follow that up,” said Lehner, who has won nine of his last 10 decisions. “I think we played really well in the first period and momentum shifted in the second period and they took over. But we worked really hard and we deserved the two points tonight.”
The Islanders spotted the Blues two first-period goals but escaped St. Louis with a 4-3 win on Jan. 5, though Islanders coach Barry Trotz spoke of “red flags” and a “wake-up call” in the aftermath of that victory.
“When I say red flags, it’s when you start stealing games you shouldn’t,” Trotz said. “But it all evens out. You win in different ways. Today, we had to win with goaltending and three-on-three performance.”
The Blues (20-20-5), who had won a season-high three straight overall and four in a row on the road, including Monday night’s 4-1 victory at Washington, have re-entered the playoff push under interim coach Craig Berube and with 25-year-old rookie goalie Jordan Binnington (23 saves) winning his first three NHL starts before sustaining his first loss on Tuesday.
David Perron tied the score at 1 at 6:07 of the third period, getting past Barzal to the right post and taking the feed from Ryan O’Reilly, who beat defenseman Scott Mayfield to the puck behind the crease.
Less than two minutes earlier, Cal Clutterbuck sprung Casey Cizikas for a breakaway but the puck rolled off his stick after he got Binnington out of position.
“We spent more time in the defensive zone than we probably would have liked,” Clutterbuck said. “But that’s a team that’s playing well and a team that keeps you from your style.”
Unlike their first game at St. Louis, the Islanders started strongly and took eight of the game’s first nine shots.
Jordan Eberle, with the 200th goal of his career, made it 1-0 at 8:43 as he collected the rebound of Lee’s shot at the right post and lifted a backhander. The goal survived a challenge from the Blues that Lee interfered with Binnington, named the NHL’s second star of the week.
“They grabbed momentum from us and we just hung on from there,” said Eberle, who became the seventh Islander with at least 10 goals. “We found a way.”
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