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Mikhail Grabovski's OT goal wins it for Islanders

New York Islanders center Mikhail Grabovski skates against

New York Islanders center Mikhail Grabovski skates against the San Jose Sharks in the first period of an NHL hockey game at Barclays Center on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

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.


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