Islanders hope to play better vs. Blues in finale of three-game homestand – Newsday
The Islanders know they won’t be so fortunate with a second straight sub-par performance against the Blues.
The Islanders wrap up a three-game homestand at Barclays Center against the Blues on Tuesday night after escaping St. Louis with a 4-3 win on Jan. 5.
“They outplayed us,” left wing Matt Martin said. “They worked harder. They seemed to be on top of pucks faster. They were winning one-on-one battles. Those aren’t system things. Those are just mental and physical things. We’ve just got to – like we did against Tampa Bay – come out ready to battle and win our one-on-one battles. If we can hold on to the puck more than they do, we’ll be all right.”
Still, the Islanders managed to rally from a two-goal deficit in the first period at St. Louis, with Martin getting a big goal to get the Islanders within 2-1 early in the second period.
The Islanders are coming off Sunday’s sensational 5-1 win over the NHL-leading Lightning, one in which they were paced by Martin and his fourth-line mates Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck. Cizikas and Clutterbuck each had a goal and an assist and Martin had two primary assists.
The Islanders will keep the same lineup for Tuesday night’s rematch with the Blues except for in net, where Robin Lehner is expected to start after Thomas Greiss stopped 38 shots on Sunday.
“What I like about Greisser, more than anything is, it doesn’t matter,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “He could be in the middle of a five-game, five-shutout streak and I could say, ‘You’re not going today,’ and he’d go, ‘Oh, no problem.’ He’s just laid back. Whatever is best for the team, he’s always behind that decision. He’s got a great attitude.”
Lehner had a career-high streak of eight straight wins snapped and made 24 saves in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Rangers in Brooklyn.
The Islanders, who have won 11 of their previous 14 games, entered Tuesday night’s game holding the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, two points ahead of the ninth-place Sabres, who have played two more games. The Islanders were just five points behind the Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals, who have played one more game.
The Blues extended their winning streak to a season-high three games with a 4-1 win at Washington on Monday night. They’ve won four straight on the road and six of their previous seven road games.
Rookie goalie Jordan Binnington, 25, the NHL’s second star of the week, is expected to start. He became just the 35th goalie in NHL history to record a shutout in his first NHL start when he made 25 saves in a 3-0 win at Philadelphia on Jan. 7.
Blues right wing David Perron has five goals and nine assists in his current 11-game point streak and right wing Vladimir Tarasenko has three goals and two assists in his current three-game point streak and he has four goals in his last five games.
It’s all contributed to the Blues’ revival as they’ve moved within three points of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Blues were 7-8-3 when coach Mike Yeo was fired on Nov. 19 and replaced on an interim basis by Craig Berube and they were still 10-14-4 on Dec. 9.
“They’re a big, heavy team,” Martin said. “Once they get it down low, they’re tough to get it away from. They grind you down and frustrate you. That’s what they did against Washington.”
Islanders right wing Josh Bailey has two goals and an assist in his current three-game point streak and right wing Jordan Eberle needs one goal to reach the 200-goal milestone for his career.
Here are the projected lineups:
Anders Lee-Brock Nelson-Jordan Eberle
Anthony Beauvillier-Mathew Barzal-Josh Bailey
Michael Dal Colle-Valtteri Filppula-Leo Komarov
Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy-Johnny Boychuk
Adam Pelech-Ryan Pulock
Devon Toews-Scott Mayfield
Robin Lehner (12-7-3, 2.21 goals-against average, .926 save percentage)
Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Vladimir Tarasenko
Zach Sanford-Ryan O’Reilly-David Perron
Patrick Maroon-Oskar Sundqvist-Jordan Kyrou
Jordan Nolan-Ivan Barbashev-Sammy Blais
Joel Edmundson-Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester-Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn-Robert Bortuzzo
Jordan Binnington (3-0-0, 1.45, .941)