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Hockey / Sports

Blues rally past Islanders in shootout win

UNIONDALE, N.Y. --The St. Louis Blues toed the line in the finale of their four-game road trip Saturday against the New York Islanders.

They received two goals from Vladimir Tarasenko but trailed by a goal in the closing minutes. T.J. Oshie rang a shot that hit the right post, crawled across the goal line, hit the left post and then rolled away.

It looked as if the Blues might roll out of town with a loss, but with 26 seconds remaining in regulation, Oshie did indeed tie the score, sending the game to overtime.

It then looked as if the Islanders had won the game in OT, but a goal by Thomas Vanek was overturned after video review.

The Blues had unexpected life, and the game went to a shootout, where the team has come to expect defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to come through in critical situations. He netted his fourth-career shootout goal, and all four have been game-clinchers, including one Saturday that rallied the Blues to a 4-3 shootout win over the Islanders.

"We had a great third period, probably deserved four or five goals based on the unbelievable chances," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Regardless for me, whatever happened in the overtime and the shootout, I was happy for the way we played in the third period. We got a point ... this was a real bonus point."

The Blues picked up their 75th point and are now just one behind Chicago for the Central Division lead. They finished their four-game road trip with a record of 3-1.

This one didn't come with any breathing room.

The Blues, who trailed the Islanders 2-0 in the first period before Tarasenko got them going, were behind 3-2 entering the third period.

They outshot the Islanders 14-7 in third period and had several chances to tie the game. Alexander Steen had a wide-open look with 11:18 left in regulation, but Islanders goalie Kevin Poulin amazingly got a stick on the puck and then it a post. Oshie, with 3:35 remaining, bounced one off both posts.

"Once I hit the first post, it was behind the goalie and I couldn't really tell what was going on," Oshie said. "I saw (Brenden Morrow) celebrating, so I just figured it would be in. But that's the way it goes."

After the Blues pulled goalie Jaroslav Halak for an extra attacker with 1:30 to play, Oshie did tie the game, 3-3, with 26 ticks left. Originally planning to pass the puck, he instead took a couple of strides and put a shot through traffic.

"(Shattenkirk) was behind me and I was going to give him the one-timer with my backhand, but I saw their forward starting to cheat that way," Oshie said. "So I turned and just kind of through it on net and hoped ... and it ended up finding its way in."

The game went to overtime, where Vanek thought he had his second goal of the game with 1 minute, 15 seconds left in OT. With Jaden Schwartz in the penalty box for tripping, the Islanders were on the power play and a loose puck went in off the skate of Vanek.

It didn't appear that there was a distinct kicking motion. Vanek was being pushed by Steen. It was called a goal on the ice but went to a review.

"From our angle, you couldn't really tell," Shattenkirk said. "You never know in those situations. When they call it a goal, they need a lot of evidence to overturn it."

As it turned out, the NHL's "war room" in Toronto felt it had that evidence, overturning the call on the ice. Vanek did not mince words after the game.

"I thought it was a terrible call," he said. "I don't know if it's who we are. If that's Pittsburgh or a top team that's maybe a goal."

Hitchcock doubted that the league would have overturned the call without support.

"They're not going to make a mistake when it goes to Toronto," he said. "They've got 25 sets of eyes looking at it."

Anyone watching the first period would have said the Islanders were the better club, led by the NHL's top line the last month.

Since Dec. 17, the trio of John Tavares, Thomas Vanek and Kyle Okposo had combined for 70 points in the last 18 games, with Tavares (26) leading the league in that stretch.

The Islanders' line added to its totals in the first period against the Blues, who were sloppy in their own zone early on Saturday. The puck popped out on the side of the team's net and Okposo pushed it to Vanek, who put it past Jaroslav Halak in the top corner for a 1-0 lead just 4:01 into the game.

They struck again late in the period.

Vanek gave the puck to Okposo, who stopped on his trail behind the net, throwing off Halak. Okposo returned and stuffed his 22nd goal of the season inside the post for a 2-0 advantage with 4:49 left in the opening period.

Looking for offense, the Blues reunited their top line of Oshie, Steen and David Backes. But the offense they needed came from Tarasenko, who scored Nos. 16-17 Saturday.

The clubs were playing four on four when Tarsenko deked his way into the offensive zone and then ripped a 40-foot shot past goalie Poulin, cutting the Blues' deficit to 2-1 with 2:43 left in the period.

Tarasenko then picked up No. 17 just 1:17 into the second period, taking a pass from Steen and sending another rocket ship past Poulin.

"Alex make a great play for me," Tarasenko said. "Hard shot for the goalie because he doesn't see shot. Guys make goal for me. I just put it in net."

Tarasenko had two goals in a span of exactly three minutes and pulled the Blues into a 2-2 tie with New York.

The Islanders charged back into the game, taking a 3-2 lead just 2:41 later on Matt Martin's fourth of the season on a nifty passing sequence.

Tarasenko had a chance to tie the score and cement his first-career hat-trick, but his shot hit the post with 2:20 left.

That was a theme Saturday, as the Blues chased the game. But they finally caught it.

"Toward the end, we felt confident that we were going to get our fair share of chances," Steen said. "Osh with a big goal and then a shootout win. It was a good end to the road trip."

(c)2014 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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