The Islanders fought back from a two-goal deficit to force overtime, but Dion Phaneuf scored the game-winning tally for Toronto at the 1:11 mark as the Maple Leafs won 5-4 Thursday at Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders earned a point for the first time in three games and moved to 8-11-2 this season.
Nazem Kadri scored his first career hat trick for Toronto, while four different players scored for the Islanders, who trailed 4-2 after 40 minutes. The home team carried momentum from a two-goal third period into overtime, as Michael Grabner hit the post on his opening shift of the extra frame, moments before Phaneuf iced the game for Toronto.
Following the game, Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano acknowledged his team’s effort to come from behind.
“We’ve been inconsistent obviously,” Capuano said. “That’s an area that we talk about as a team. We have to stop talking about the structure and the frame-work. We know what our roster is. We know how we have to play. We just have to consistently believe that’s what’s going to get it done on our team. When we try to do things that are too cute and when we don’t manage the puck properly and make it a short track, that’s when we get into trouble.”
Trailing 4-2 in the third period, Andrew MacDonald scored his first of the season to close the deficit to a single goal. Just seconds after Lubomir Visnovsky had a goal disallowed, Mark Streit gloved a clearing attempt at the blue line and dished to Kyle Okposo, who pump-faked a shot before finding MacDonald on the right side. MacDonald’s one-timer beat Toronto goaltender James Reimer at 5:31.
Five minutes later, Okposo got his body in the way of a pass in the defensive zone and was off to the races. Okposo fired a shot from the right wing over Reimer to even the score at 4-4 to force overtime.
Okposo said the team’s back-against-the-wall approach to the third period triggered the comeback effort.
“I don’t know if we play better, but we do play more desperate in those situations,” Okposo said. “We just have to play 60 minutes. We haven’t done that consistently enough. We’ve had too many mental lapses like we did in the second period tonight.”
The Islanders had led 1-0 and 2-1 before allowing three straight goals in the second period. Josh Bailey gave the Islanders the lead early in the first period. Okposo took the line on the right wing side and maneuvered around Cody Franson before slipping a pass through to the slot for Bailey. The left wing scored from close range at 3:34. Andrew MacDonald earned the secondary assist on the play. It was the first of the season for Bailey, who was skating in his 10th game.
“Obviously it feels nice to get on the score sheet and contribute,” Bailey said. “It was a heck of a play by Okie. I was trying to not let myself get too frustrated. When the chances are there you’ve just got to stick with it and continue working on your shot, whether it’s in practice or just getting pucks to the net in games. Eventually it will go in.”
Five minutes later, Nazem Kadri’s first goal of the evening tied the score at 1-1. He stickhandled through the zone and worked his way into the slot before going top shelf over Evgeni Nabokov.
Lubomir Visnovsky put the Islanders back on top with his first tally of the 2012-13 campaign. Casey Cizikas led a two-on-one attack into the Leafs zone and had the puck knocked away from him, before recovering to find a trailing Visnovsky. The veteran defenseman ripped a slap shot off the crossbar and in at 6:22.
Two minutes later, Kadri’s second of the game knotted the score at two. Kadri put his weight into a shot from the slot, which snuck through a defenseman and past Nabokov.
Midway through the period, the Maple Leafs caught the Islanders on a line change and took their first lead. James van Riemsdyk accepted a feed from David Steckel in the middle and followed up his own shot to make it 3-2. Kadri’s third of the night, a nifty individual effort, made it 4-2 at 14:12 of the second period.
“We’d like to squash that little slide there in the second where they got a couple of goals,” Bailey said. “I think we need to just to find a way to put together a full 60. We’ve said it over and over again, but I think it’s something to really focus on and I think that when things aren’t going our way we just need to focus on playing simply - getting pucks out, getting pucks in. It’s pretty cliché, but I think that’s the way we need to do it.”
The Islanders continue their current seven-game home stand on Sunday, March 3 when the Ottawa Senators make their first appearance of 2012-13 to Nassau Coliseum. Game time is set for 3:00 p.m.
Notes: Michael Grabner missed high on a penalty shot at the 15:56 mark of the first period … Neither team was penalized throughout the game … The Maple Leafs outshot the Islanders 28-27 … Kyle Okposo (one goal, two assists) recorded his first three-point game since November 23, 2011 vs. Philadelphia (two goals, one assist) … Andrew MacDonald’s last multi-point effort was February 24, 2012 vs. the New York Rangers (two assists) … The Islanders won the faceoff battle 33-26 and were led by Frans Nielsen (10-for-16, 63%) … Matt Martin led all players for the sixth straight game in hits, registering nine … Travis Hamonic had a game-high 24:40 of ice time and five blocked shots.
New York Islanders
26 Matt Moulson - 91 John Tavares - 24 Brad Boyes
12 Josh Bailey - 51 Frans Nielsen - 21 Kyle Okposo
40 Michael Grabner - 53 Casey Cizikas - 13 Colin McDonald
17 Matt Martin - 16 Marty Reasoner - 36 Eric Boulton
47 Andrew MacDonald – 3 Travis Hamonic
14 Thomas Hickey – 11 Lubomir Visnovsky
52 Joe Finley - 2 Mark Streit
20 Evgeni Nabokov
60 Kevin Poulin
Toronto Maple Leafs
21 James van Riemsdyk - 42 Tyler Bozak - 81 Phil Kessel
41 Nikolai Kulemin - 84 Mikhail Grabovski - 11 Jay McClement
16 Clarke MacArthur - 43 Nazem Kadri - 28 Colton Orr
38 Frazer McLaren - 20 David Steckel - 47 Leo Komarov
3 Dion Phaneuf - 55 Korbinian Holzer
36 Carl Gunnarsson - 53 Michael Kostka
45 Mark Fraser - 4 Cody Franson
34 James Reimer
30 Ben Scrivens