The St. Louis Blues returned triumphantly to the comforts of home Thursday night, trouncing the floundering New York Islanders 5-1. The Blues had five different players light the lamp and went 3-for-6 on the power-play, essentially dominating the game from start to finish despite some undisciplined play in their own zone. The Isles managed their lone goal on 23 shots and lost for the eighth straight time.
The Blues scored first Thursday on a Jay Bouwmeester power-play goal. St. Louis had its man-advantage clicking at top speed against the scrambling Isles defense, and did a great job getting bodies in front of young New York netminder Anders Nilsson. It was the only scoring in a penalty-filled 1st period as both teams exhibited a lack of discipline at both ends of the ice. The Isles actually had the better chances but Jaroslav Halak (15-4-2) was solid making 6 stops.
New York tied the game 1-1 early in the 2nd period on a power-play goal of their own but then the Blues took over, their offense exploding for 3 goals over the last 13 minutes of the frame. Derek Roy and David Backes each added a power-play goal to put the Blues up 3-1. An assist by Alexander Steen on the Backes goal gave him 11 points in his last 11 games versus the Isles.
Magnus Paajarvi, back in the lineup after missing Monday night’s game with the flu, played very strongly all over the ice Thursday, netting his 2nd goal of the season to put St. Louis up 4-1. The play was again the result of excellent back-side positioning as Paajarvi, all alone in the crease, took a beautiful heads-up pass from Patrik Berglund and beat Nilsson over the blocker.
The Blues out-shot the Isles 14-8 in the 2nd period and 26-23 for the game but didn’t look as sharp as you’d like to see exiting their own zone. Credit New York with putting pressure on the St. Louis defense though, as John Tavares managed 4 shots on goal. JT is dangerous any time he’s on the ice and can strike from anywhere. Halak made some quality saves against the shifty Isles captain.
Brenden Morrow tipped in a gorgeous, cross-ice, backhanded pass from Roy to make it 5-1 Blues in the 3rd period, capping all scoring. TJ Oshie also assisted on the goal, his second helper of the night and 20th of the season.
I’m a fan of the Islanders, and while I’m certainly not sorry to see the Blues get a strong, home-ice victory, I feel a bit of sympathy for New York fans. The Isles have talent and guts and I thought looked a lot like the Blues coming into the season. But just as two roads diverged in a yellow wood, St. Louis has gone a much different direction thanks in large part to their depth and goaltending. The Isles are inconsistent in both of those critical areas right now. The teams will square off again in New York in January.
Jaden Schwartz failed to notch at least a point for the first time in his last eight games but continued playing much bigger than his 5′-10″ frame. It’s evident Jaden has embraced the challenge issued by Doug Armstrong after last season to ratchet up game and keep pushing the boundaries. Skating with Vladimir Sobotka has only helped increase Schwartzy’s energy. Those guys never stop.
St. Louis is back in action tomorrow night at Scottrade against the surging Anaheim Ducks, with whom they’re tied in the Conference standings at 41 points. The Ducks are fast and furious and the Blues will look to keep the pace on a more even keel, play their heavy game, and continue their winning ways. Very few guys skated this morning, so the team should be well rested and ready to get after it.
GO BLUES! LONG LIVE THE NOTE!