UNIONDALE, N.Y. — On most occasions, if you pick up five points on a four-game road trip, you’re satisfied. Particularly considering two of those games were against 100-point teams from a year ago in Toronto (100) and the New York Islanders (103).
This wasn’t one of those occasions.
After opening their longest road trip of the season with victories in Toronto and Ottawa, the Blues stumbled across the finish line.
On Saturday, they couldn’t hold a 3-2 second-period lead in what became a 6-3 loss in Montreal.
And in a Monday matinee at Nassau Coliseum, the Blues squandered a 2-0 lead in the final 5 minutes 31 seconds, losing 3-2 to the New York Islanders on Devon Toews’ goal at the 1:13 mark of overtime.
It made for a not-so-happy Canadian Thanksgiving for all those Blues from north of the border, including Toronto-area native Jordan Binnington.
Happy with a five-point road trip?
“No,” Binnington said. “We had this win. It’s frustrating. We wanted three wins here obviously after that loss last game (in Montreal). It’s frustrating, and it’s on us. So we’re gonna pick ourselves back up and get back to work.”
Yes, back to work. But not before a trip to Washington, D.C., and a Tuesday visit to the White House, the last in the long, long series of post-Stanley Cup festivities.
With the noon start on Long Island, the Blues also were able to fly to the nation’s capital in time to catch Game 3 of baseball’s National League Championship Series between the Cardinals and Washington Nationals in person. Most of the players went.
It would’ve been a better time at the old ballpark had the Blues left New York with two points instead of just one for the overtime loss.
“It’s not a great feeling being up 2-0 with that amount of time left and losing in overtime,” Brayden Schenn said. “I think we just took our foot off the gas. They hemmed us in their own end for parts of the third period and we were unable to keep the lead.”
It was the first time this season the Blues had a lead entering the third period; they were 35-2-2 under those circumstances last season. They are 0-1 this season.
But don’t blame Schenn, who had a hand in both St. Louis goals. For starters, he scored a goal for the fifth consecutive games — a personal best — to give the Blues a 1-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game. It was supposed to be a pass.
“Just threw it to the net,” Schenn said. “I tried to hit Vladi (Tarasenko) backdoor. But they had a couple guys backchecking and it went off the guy’s stick (Anthony Beauvillier) and in. So you take the bounces while you can.”
So the hockey gods smiled the Blues’ way on that one. It would go differently later.
After dominating what nonetheless was a scoreless second period, the Blues seemingly had the Islanders in a stranglehold when Tarasenko scored a power play goal 5 ½ minutes into the third period for a 2-0 lead.
It was Tarasenko’s first goal of the season; he was originally credited with the Blues’ first goal but that one was later correctly changed to Schenn. There was no doubt about this one, which came on a Tarasenko classic — a blast from the right faceoff circle on a feed from Schenn.
New York couldn’t get much of anything going as the clock ticked down. Not just a Blues victory but also Binnington’s sixth career regular-season shutout seemed inevitable. Until a giveaway near the Islanders’ blueline led to a Brock Nelson one-timer that got past Binnington on the near side.
To say that Binnington was unhappy about yielding that goal would be an understatement.
“A bit of a knucklepuck,” Binnington said. “Good goal? No, it kinda (stinks). Frustrated and not happy with how the game finished off there.”
The small crowd of 10,355 came to life after the score, and the Islanders rode the wave, pressuring the heck out of the Blues in the closing minutes.
“I thought we did a pretty good job for the majority of that game,” Schenn said. “We were pretty tight defensively, grinding them down. Didn’t really turn over that many pucks.
“But at the end of the day we gave them a little ounce of energy and momentum and they capitalized with it.”
Only 26.5 seconds remained in regulation when the hockey gods smiled the other way. An attempted centering pass by Mathew Barzal deflected off the stick of Alexander Steen and in for the game-tying goal.
And just 73 seconds into OT came Toews’ game-winner.
“We gotta do a better job,” coach Craig Berube said, referring to the overtime sequence. “It was kind of a tough change. But Petro (Alex Pietrangelo) got hit with the puck and clearly was in some pain. And when Barzal went around the net. … we just didn’t cover the guy in the slot. But he was in some pain, Petro, he got hit with the shot before that.”
The shot hit Pietrangelo in the foot, and he wasn’t moving well on the game-winning sequence. In fact, three hours after the game after the team landed in D.C., he was limping around.
Surprisingly, Berube didn’t come across as particularly unhappy about the blown 2-0 lead or the lost point in overtime in his postgame comments to the media.
“Oh yeah. For sure,” he said. “But I thought we played a heck of game. Couple bad breaks and they tied it up. Overtime. But I liked our game.”
Call it a big-picture view. For the vast majority of the first 55 minutes, he saw the Blues play their game. Something he hadn’t seen much in the first five games.
“I thought that we did a real good job managing the puck, controlling the play in the offensive zone for most of the game,” Berube said. “Doing all the right things. Just a couple bad breaks and that’s the way it goes sometimes.”