In arguably their biggest game of the season, the New York Islanders managed to tie the game late and finish the job in overtime.
The Isles began the night five points behind the Flyers for the last wild card spot and with the Leafs right in front of New York; Monday’s game had plenty of playoff implications.
Just a minute into the game, the Islanders struck first when Ryan Strome followed up his own rebound to beat Fredrick Anderson.
The Islanders started the game running but the lead didn’t last long thanks to sloppy defense.
At the 13:27 mark of the first Nikita Soshnikov beat Thomas Greiss off the rush to tie the game at one.
Adam Pelech has done an admirable job filling the role of Travis Hamonic, but Pelech left way too much room on his side on the goal and Soshnikov took advantage.
Just a minute later Johnny Boychuk’s shot trickled off the post and at the other end, Auston Matthews beat Greiss to give the Leafs their first lead of the night.
Greiss has bailed out his team more than enough the past few weeks but two weak goals by the netminder saw Toronto take a 2-1 lead.
With just over two minutes left in the period, Nikolai Kulemin would bang home the rebound on a Casey Cizikas shot and even thing up at two heading into the break.
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The Isles came out firing to start the second but Anderson stood on his head for the first couple of minute to keep the score tied. The Islanders lost it from there.
Five minutes into the period, Leafs rookie Mitch Marner beat Greiss blocker side to give Toronto a 3-2 lead.
Just four minutes later on an Islanders power play the Leafs would generate a 2-1 and Zach Hyman beat Greiss to put the Leafs up 4-2.
It seemed like all momentum was lost. The Barclays was quiet and the team played with very little energy.
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Then Doug Weight switched Anthony Beauvillier and Anders Lee and reunited the kid line. It wasn’t the Jack Capuano switching every player to a new line, but a simple switch to spark the offense.
Lee, Strome, and Nelson made an immediate impact and with six minutes left in the period, Strome made a great feed to Nelson who went top shelf to cut the Leaf’s lead to 4-3.
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Nelson now has two goals in his last two games and five points in his last four. After a rough start to the year, the Islanders certainly could use a much-needed boost from Nelson down the stretch.
For the third straight game the Isles trailed 4-3 after two periods. The Leafs came into the night 19-1-6 when taking a lead into the 3rd.
For the second game in a row it was Josh Bailey who tied it for the Islanders. With six minutes to play Bailey put home a rebound on a Dennis Seidenberg shot from the point to even things up.
With that being said for the second time in the last three games the Islanders allowed to game-winning goal with under two minutes to play.
Beauvillier lost his stick and the Islanders defense was left hanging. The Leafs found a wide-open William Nylander who buried it in the open net to put Toronto up 5-4.
Just when the Islanders were face to face with a deflating loss, Andrew Ladd retied the game with 1:29 left in the 3rd.
What a job the Isles did to not let the Leafs goal put them away. They played until the final whistle and earned at least a point as we headed into overtime.
Remember that Brock Nelson fella’ who needs to keep playing well down the stretch? Well, with two minutes left in overtime, Nelson beat Anderson glove side on a 2 on 1 to give the Isles a 6-5 win.
This was the Islanders biggest win of the year. Just like that, they are three points out of a playoff spot and have a date with the Flyers on Thursday with a chance to put them one point back.