Lee Stempniak’s power-play goal 25 seconds into overtime gave St. Louis a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over New York on Thursday night in Smyth’s debut on Long Island. Stempniak had an open shot from the left circle off a pass from Eric Brewer and beat Rick DiPietro to the far corner to give the Blues their sixth win in seven games (6-1-0).
“It’s a really good win for us,” Stempniak said. “Eric made a great fake and drew the goalie out, and slid it over to me. DiPietro had too much room to cover to get back in time.”
The Islanders were cruising to a 2-0 victory with less than three minutes left in the game when Jay McClement and Petr Cajanek scored in a 38-second span to force overtime. Curtis Sanford picked up the win by stopping 25 shots.
Smyth, acquired from Edmonton on Tuesday, assisted on Mike Sillinger’s first-period goal, and played a key role in Marc-Andre Bergeron’s second-period score. After the goal was knocked off its moorings, Smyth used his skate to put it back in place just before Bergeron’s shot deflected in.
“I was nervous and excited in the same breath,” Smyth said. “I was waiting for the Canadian anthem to be played.”
DiPietro stopped 36 shots, but took the penalty at the end of regulation that led to the overtime goal.
DiPietro leads all NHL goalies with 22 penalty minutes. He chose not to meet with the media after the game.
The overtime point leaves the Islanders in sole possession of seventh place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind Atlanta and one point ahead of Montreal. New York ended a seven-game home stand with a 5-2-0 mark, with the last five of those games decided by one goal.
“It’s a valuable point,” Sillinger said. “But for the last few games, we’ve had a two-goal lead and let other teams tie it up. We have to correct that, and do it quickly.”
St. Louis outplayed the Islanders in the first period and had a golden chance to score the first goal when a shot left the puck laying on the goal line, but defenceman Brendan Witt swept it out of the goal mouth.
“We played hard for all 60 minutes,” Blues coach Andy Murray said. “DiPietro made some big saves, but we kept working, and it paid off. I just wish it didn’t wait that long to happen.”
Smyth, who earned a warm welcome from the crowd of 12,263, assisted on the opening goal by Sillinger at 10:16. Down the left side, he centred a pass to Sillinger, who faked Sanford down with a forehand move and tucked a backhand into the open net.
“Silly made a great play on the goal,” Smyth said. “I just tried to put it on.”
Bergeron gave New York a 2-0 lead 40 seconds into the second period when he stuffed Jason Blake’s pass past Sanford.
Smyth had the foresight to put the net back in position just before Bergeron’s shot.
“Blakey (Jason Blake) said he ran into it when he tried to stuff a shot,” Smyth said. “I just tried to put it back on.”
St. Louis tied the game late in the final period with a pair of goals 38 seconds apart.
McClement broke DiPietro’s shutout bid at 17:29 off a scramble with a wrist shot from in front.
Cajanek tied it at 18:07 on a wrist shot from the left circle.
“I don’t think anyone in this room thought we were going to lose this game tonight,” said defenceman Brad Boyes, one of the Blues newest acquisitions. “It’s nice to come in here and spoil the party. Notes: DiPietro set a career high with his 13th straight start. … When Mike Kitchen coached the Blues from the start of the season, the collective plus-minus total of the team was -96. Since Andy Murray has taken over the team the roster is a plus-50. … The Blues entered the game with a 4-1-1 record against the Eastern Conference. … Smyth becomes the first Islander to ever wear No. 94.