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Blues hope to avoid 3rd straight setback in meeting with Isles
(SportsNetwork.com) - After losing two straight games for only the second time this season, the St. Louis Blues hope to get back on track in Thursday's home meeting against the struggling New York Islanders.
The Blues had won five straight before suffering two of their five regulation losses this season over the last two outings. St. Louis had its winning streak snapped in Friday's 6-3 loss at San Jose before closing a three-game road trip with Monday's 3-2 setback in Los Angeles.
St. Louis, which is 18-5-3 on the season, had lost two in a row previously on Oct. 18 and 25, but both of those losses against Winnipeg and Vancouver, respectively, came after regulation.
The last time the Blues dropped three in a row was during an 0-3-0 stretch from March 24-28 of last season.
St. Louis fell behind 3-0 in Monday's loss against the Kings before making a late push in the third period. Kevin Shattenkirk cut the deficit to 3-1 with 5:54 left in regulation and Vladimir Tarasenko tallied with 16 seconds remaining, but the Blues were never able to draw even in the 3-2 loss.
"We can't play like that," said St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock. "The score is 3-0, I don't think you can judge the game by its 3-0 score, who knows how much they let their foot off the accelerator. To me, it's ready at the start, ready to compete at the start, ready to fight for space. They took it to us."
Shattenkirk and Tarasenko each added an assist in the loss. Jaroslav Halak stopped 20 shots and fell to 14-4-2 on the season. Halak will get the start again tonight and is 5-1-1 with a superb 1.41 goals against average in seven career tilts against the Islanders.
The Blues played Monday without forward Magnus Paajarvi, who is battling flu- like symptoms. Paajarvi, who has just one goal in 10 games this season, could be back in the lineup tonight.
Despite the two recent losses on the road, the Blues enter Thursday riding a four-game winning streak on home ice. St. Louis boasts a stellar 11-1-2 record at Scottrade Center this season.
The Blues have won two straight and three of their last four home games against the Islanders. St. Louis also has claimed three of four overall in this series.
New York enters Thursday's tilt on a seven-game slide, but the club has earned its only two points during the 0-5-2 stretch over the last two contests -- both overtime losses.
After getting beat by an Alex Ovechkin OT game-winner in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals, Sidney Crosby provided the back-breaking goal in Tuesday's 3-2 loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Crosby tied the game at 2-2 with a power-play goal eight minutes into the third period and then won it with just 1:16 left in the extra session.
Crosby stripped New York captain John Tavares just outside the Isles' blue line, then skated back into the zone, split a pair of defenders, and chipped the puck on the backhand past Anders Nilsson to end the game.
Kyle Okposo tallied twice and Tavares assisted on both goals for the Islanders. Nilsson made 21 saves in the setback.
"We've got to find a way to get two points," Okposo said following the loss.
The Islanders are on their longest losing streak since a club-record 14-game slide (0-11-3) from Oct. 23-Nov. 24, 2010.
12/05 10:52:18 ET