ST. LOUIS — New night, new Islanders.
Less than 24 hours after their worst performance of the season, the Isles rode superb goaltending by Thomas Greiss and some opportunistic scoring to beat the Western Conference-leading Blues, 5-2, on Saturday night.
“We were a little bit, I guess you could say, embarrassed in Dallas,” Anders Lee said of the 5-0 drubbing the Islanders took on Friday night from the Stars. “And we’re in here on a back-to-back against one of the best teams in the league. We did a nice job showing our legs early and Greisser was terrific.”
It certainly wasn’t a cakewalk despite building a 4-0 lead early in the second period — certainly not the same as what the Stars did to the Islanders. Dallas’ 4-0 lead seemed like 40-0 against a listless Isles team that mustered only 14 shots on goal.
The Islanders had pace and determination Saturday night and produced an early lead as a result. John Tavares outworked defenseman Colton Parayko behind the St. Louis net and curled around the goal with the puck, waiting to find a hole to beat Jake Allen for his 13th goal just 3:21 in.
It was only the fifth time in 17 games that the Islanders scored first.
Greiss, who finished with 35 saves, was instrumental from there. He made two outstanding stops on Paul Stastny within a few minutes of one another later in the first that led directly to Islanders goals.
After the first, defenseman Nick Leddy raced down, ostensibly to give his teammates time to change. Allen directed his soft shot into the slot, where Casey Cizikas worked through two defenders to flip it home at 10:07.
The next Greiss-on-Stastny theft was even better — a scissor-kick stop with his legs at 12 o’clock that sent the puck soaring and started a two-on-one that Jordan Eberle finished at 13:18.
“You give a team like that some life, especially in their building, and it can be trouble,” Andrew Ladd said. “Greisser shut the door when we needed some big saves.”
Josh Ho-Sang, returned from AHL exile after three weeks, pounced on another rebound for his first goal of the season at 3:35 of the second to send Allen to the bench.
The Blues, who came in on a 9-1-1 run to sit atop the Western Conference, certainly had a response from there and cut it to 4-2 at 6:41 of the third. But as the minutes ticked down, the Islanders stood pretty strong. Lee deflected Adam Pelech’s shot past Carter Hutton with 4:27 to play to seal a much-needed response from Friday’s awfulness.
Doug Weight was furious after Friday’s game and let his players know it in their Saturday morning meeting.
“I took a strip off them and it was probably warranted,” he said. “They know it. But you could see throughout the day the leaders addressing what needed to be addressed, even without the coaches saying anything.”
The Islanders have had the ability to respond this season. They still haven’t lost consecutive games in regulation and have responded to their three really ugly defeats — opening night in Columbus (5-0), Oct. 26 in St. Paul (6-4) and Friday — with resounding wins.
“It’s when you lose a few in a row that you start to slip in the standings and the confidence slips with it,” Lee said. “You just want to put those behind you as quickly as possible, and I thought we did that tonight.”