Sat, 02 Dec 2023

Isles hope to pick on defensively deficient Blues

Field Level Media
06 Dec 2022, 18:05 GMT+10

The St. Louis Blues -- inconsistent and defensively porous -- will finish their trek to New York on Tuesday night by getting a glimpse at a team that is playing an entirely different type of hockey.

St. Louis will look to snap its latest losing streak when it completes a back-to-back set by opposing the New York Islanders in Elmont, N.Y.

The Blues' struggles continued Monday night, when they gave up three unanswered goals in the third period of a 6-4 loss to the New York Rangers. The Islanders were off Monday after earning a 3-0 win over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

St. Louis, which has lost four straight and six of seven games (1-6-0), has run hot and cold almost without exception through the first 25 games.

The Blues won their first three games, then lost eight straight before winning seven straight. St. Louis lost two in a row before its most recent win on Nov. 26, when the Blues trailed 3-0 and 4-1 before rallying for a 5-4 overtime victory over the Florida Panthers.

The defeat Monday night encapsulated the struggles experienced by the Blues, who overcame a trio of one-goal deficits before taking a 4-3 lead by scoring twice in a span of 91 seconds shortly beyond the midway point of the second period. But the Rangers scored their three third-period goals in less than 10 minutes.

"We're not a confident hockey team," Blues coach Craig Berube said. "We've got to keep working at getting out of that. You've just got to go play. You can't play tentative and you can't play tight. You've got to loosen up and play. We did that for two periods, but the third, it didn't happen."

The Blues' fortunes have rested with their defense. St. Louis, whose 96 goals allowed are the fifth most in the NHL, has given up three goals or fewer in nine of its 11 wins but surrendered five or more goals in 10 of its 14 losses, including each of the past three.

"It's our mistakes that are causing their goals," Blues center Jordan Kyrou said. "We have to be better with that. We have to clean that up."

The Islanders blanked the Blackhawks to snap a two-game losing streak and provide another glimpse at the formula that helped New York make three straight trips to the playoffs from 2018-19 through 2020-21, a stretch it capped with consecutive appearances in the NHL semifinals.

The Islanders have allowed 66 goals, tied for fourth fewest in the NHL, and have yet to lose more than three straight games. They surrendered the fewest, fifth fewest and second fewest goals in the NHL in the three seasons from 2018-19 through 2020-21, a stretch in which New York had just three losing streaks longer than three games.

While New York allowed the seventh-fewest goals in the NHL last season, establishing a consistent identity was an elusive task for the Islanders following an 11-game losing streak from Nov. 7-Dec. 5 that effectively knocked them out of playoff contention.

"You saw our season last year," Islanders left winger Matt Martin said Sunday night. "We weren't banking points early in the year. Never really got any traction when we got our legs under us -- we were chasing it from the get-go."

--Field Level Media

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