ST. LOUIS - The Islanders nearly gave one away -- or had it wrestled away by a big, strong Blues team -- but Mikhail Grabovski's goal with 59.3 seconds left in overtime allowed the Isles to sneak away with a 3-2 win, their first in this city in a decade.
Thomas Greiss made 38 saves as the Isles blew a 2-0 lead in the third but salvaged it on Grabovski's tap-in of Frans Nielsen's feed.
The 2-0 lead the Isles brought to the third didn't hold. Colton Parayko threw a quick wrister through a crowd that Greiss never saw, putting the Blues on the board 2:26 into the third.
By the time Alex Steen deflected another Parayko shot, this one with 9:09 left in the third, it wasn't a surprise. The Blues poured it on the Isles in the third, outshooting the visitors 15-2. St. Louis came close to winning in regulation half a dozen times, but Greiss and a few deflected pucks kept it tied to force overtime.
Jack Capuano's rather surprising decision to sit Ryan Strome coming off Friday's 5-3 home loss to the Bruins wasn't a knee-jerk reaction to a bad game. Strome and Anders Lee have struggled at times with the responsibility of playing with John Tavares this season, even though it had only been seven games -- and three of those were against the Blackhawks and their all-world defensemen (twice) and one against Zdeno Chara and the Bruins.
"Anders and Ryan are still young players and I think they're starting to understand you can't take a night off," Capuano said prior to the game. "Johnny is always going to see the other team's best -- big guys, good defenders. And they have to help [Tavares] out. We have to find a good mix. Changing it up a little bit will be good."
Tavares "new" linemates were Nikolay Kulemin and Josh Bailey, who have played with him before. They meshed well for a goal in the closing minutes of a difficult second period.
Bailey pulled up with the puck along the side wall in his own zone as the Blues peeled back and changed. He zoomed a 100-foot pass right onto Kulemin's stick in stride across the St. Louis line, where Kulemin dropped the puck for Tavares and took a posse with him to the net.
With room, Tavares did what he usually does: snapped a wrist shot home. This one went stick side over Brian Elliott's blocker for Tavares' fifth goal of the season with 1:19 to play in the second.
The Islanders owed their two-goal lead to a bit of good fortune in their own end -- the Blues missed connection on a few plays in tight -- and the stalwart play of Greiss, who looked very sharp after not playing since a 4-3 win over Nashville on Oct. 15.
Greiss had two 10-bell saves in a 14-save second, both with his right pad and about a minute apart. He turned aside Jori Lehtera's try from the slot with the right pad just after a Blues power play expired, then one-upped that save by flashing the pad again to stop Alex Steen's midair deflection.
The Islanders opened the scoring on Kyle Okposo's power-play goal at 16:52, a wrist shot that sailed through Lee's screen.