Loose Islanders burned by Blues despite 3rd-period comeback in 7-4 loss

Islanders Blues
St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly (90) skates away after scoring a goal past New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Turnovers and lackadaisical play cost the Islanders despite a thrilling comeback attempt and a seven-combined-goal third period, falling to the St. Louis Blues 7-4 on Tuesday night at UBS Arena.

Down 5-1 with 16 minutes remaining in the game, the Islanders (16-11-0) mounted a furious comeback by scoring three goals to cut it within one — but it wouldn’t be enough.

Zach Parise brought the Islanders back to within three with a power-play wrister from the left circle that snuck just inside the opposite post 1:46 after the Blues’ fifth goal of the night at the 5:36 mark of the third period. The Islanders didn’t get their third until there was 5:17 remaining in the game when Hudson Fasching scored his first goal of the season in his second game of the season by redirecting a Matt Martin shot. 

Just 21 seconds later, Jean-Gabriel Pageau brought New York to within one when he stuffed a backhander home from behind the net.

“Too big of a hole tonight,” captain Anders Lee said. “That’s what it was. We fought til the end and gave ourselves a chance to get within one with three, four minutes left.”

But they were doomed by a turnover from Ryan Pulock at the St. Louis blue line with the Islanders’ net empty, ultimately leading to a Robert Thomas goal to ice the game with 1:57 to go. Noel Acciari got his second of the night with an empty netter of his own with 1:05 to go.

The win snaps a four-game losing streak for the Blues, who were the benefactors of some loose Islanders play — the Pulock miscue proving to be the final of a long list of mistakes.

“We made some uncharacteristic decisions,” head coach Lane Lambert said. “That led to a couple, for sure, of odd-number rushes that they wound up scoring on and they took advantage of… It cost us.”

Josh Leivo burned the Islanders toward the end of a first period that they had largely sleepwalked through. A drop pass from Brock Nelson gone wrong at the Blues’ blue line sparked a St. Louis rush that saw Leivo lead a 2-on-1 chance down the right wing. He kept it himself as he sniped a wrister past Ilya Sorokin with 2:43 to go in the frame.

It was a particularly difficult night for Sorokin, who made just 21 saves on 26 shots faced. 

“I thought we gave them some rushes, some goals that he had no chance on,” Lambert said. “Our goaltenders have been good all year but tonight we gave up some rushes we shouldn’t have.”

The deficit looked to spark the Islanders to life, though, as their deficit lasted just 39 seconds. Mathew Barzal sent a pinpoint backhanded pass from the left circle to an on-rushing Noah Dobson at the opposite post. A one-time wrister beat Thomas Greiss up high to knot things back up headed into the first intermission.

Another Islanders mistake at the St. Louis blue line led to a Blues goal as a puck hopped over defenseman Scott Mayfield’s stick to spark an opposing rush. William Bitten down the left wing fed Ivan Barbashev, who had a wide-open net to finish his one-timer 3:51 into the second period.

Ryan O’Reilly outhustled the Islanders’ defense to nab a third for the Blues. Wheeling around from the right goal line, he snuck a shot off the shoulder of Sorokin before diving for the rebound and stuffing it home with 5:02 to go in the second.

A calamitous third period couldn’t have started much worse to finish off the Islanders. 

St. Louis scored two goals in 13 seconds — an Acciari redirection at the 3;37 mark of the third before Colton Parayko’s lazy wrister simply beat Sorokin glove side for one of the worst goals you’ll see the star netminder allow.

“It would be a shame to point a finger at that guy,” Parise said of Sorokin. “Those guys have been the best tandem in the league the entire year. I don’t think anyone is worried about those guys.”

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