ELMONT, N.Y. — Thomas Greiss couldn’t have picked a better time for his best game of the season.
Josh Leivo couldn’t have picked a better time for his first Blues goal. Same with Will Bitten and his first NHL assist (and point). It all added up to a sorely needed 7-4 victory by the Blues on Tuesday at UBS Arena over the New York Islanders.
For one night at least, they stopped the bleeding — having lost six of their previous seven games. For the first time in four games, they didn’t give up six goals. Lastly, for the first time in 24 hours, they were able to protect a lead in the third period. At 12-14-0 for the season, there’s no need for a parade.
On Monday at Madison Square Garden, the Blues took a 4-3 lead into the final period only to surrender three goals and lose 6-4. On Tuesday, they took a 3-1 lead into the final period and added to it with two goals in the first four minutes.
In fact it was two goals in 13 seconds, first on a Noel Acciari deflection of a Justin Faulk shot. And then a shot from distance by Colton Parayko — his first goal of the season — that seemed to catch Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin by disguise.
But absolutely nothing comes easy for the Blues this season — we all know that by now. And goals by Zach Parise, on the power play, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau just 21 seconds apart made it a 5-4 game with 4:56 left in the contest.
An empty net goal by Robert Thomas with 1:57 left gave the Blues a 6-4 cushion. And a few seconds later, Acciari scored another empty-netter.
Bitten by Will
Playing in just his second NHL game, Bitten helped give the Blues the lead early in the second period. In the lineup only because Pavel Buchnevich was out with a lower-body injury, Bitten got to a loose puck in the neutral zone creating an instant 2-on-1 break.
He passed to Ivan Barbashev in the slot and Barbashev buried it for his fourth goal of the season and ending a personal 10-game goal drought. Playing in just his second NHL game after more than four seasons in the minors, it was Bitten’s first NHL point.