The Islanders held a two-goal third period lead, but were unable to hold on in overtime, losing 5-4 to the Winnipeg Jets Sunday at MTS Centre. John Tavares registered his first goal of the season to go along with two assists, and Matt Moulson added a goal and a helper as the Islanders gained a point in the standings.
Evander Kane ended the game for the Jets 1:59 into the extra period. Olli Jokinen entered the Islanders zone on a breakout play and fired a shot from the left circle. Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov made his 30th save of the evening on the initial shot, but Kane crashed the net and batted the rebound out of mid-air over the goal line.
The overtime loss brings the Islanders record to 2-2-1 on the young season.
After the game, Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano talked about the bullet points he will address with the team before their next game.
“We got pucks to the net, which was something we talked about over the last couple days,” Capuano said. “That was a positive. We still had some guys that need to battle a little bit harder, and were a little soft on the walls tonight. We’re going to have to address that problem.”
Entering the third period, the Islanders trailed on the score board 2-1, but Tavares’ goal tied the game early in the frame. Kyle Okposo made a great pass through the defense in the neutral zone, springing Tavares on a partial breakaway. Jets defenseman Tobias Enstrom tripped on the play, and the Isles center took advantage of the extra time to wrist the puck past Jets goaltender Al Montoya 22 seconds in.
Five minutes later, Moulson gave the Islanders a 3-2 lead on his third tally of the season. Following an extended attack in the Jets zone, Moulson deflected Tavares’ low wrist shot from the top of the zone through Montoya.
Midway through the third, Mark Streit’s power-play goal doubled the Islanders advantage. Frans Nielsen set up the Islanders captain for a one-timer at the top of the zone. The puck caromed off a defender on its way to making the score 4-2.
But three minutes later, Dustin Byfuglien’s power-play goal cut the Islanders lead to 4-3. The Jets defenseman uncorked a slap-shot through traffic that clanked in off the post, ending the Islanders streak of consecutive penalties killed at 16. The Islanders were 3-for-3 on the penalty kill up to that point.
Capuano said that in the end, special teams were the difference in the game.
“I thought the key points in this game were both power plays,” Capuano said. “We got one when we needed it, and they got one too. That was a big one. ”
Alex Burmistrov tied the game at 4-4 at the 14:04 mark of the third period. Neither team would score again in regulation.
Nabokov, who fell to 2-1-1 on the season, was frustrated with the way the team allowed Winnipeg to come back late in the third.
“We just have to regroup and we have to get better and we’ve got to move on,” Nabokov said. “I thought in the third period we came out with a little bit of intensity. I felt like we could take it to them and we did. We played well, but we need a 60-minute effort. All of us on the ice have to be better.”
The Islanders first struck two minutes into the opening period on David Ullstrom’s second goal of the season. After forcing a turnover in the neutral zone, Ullstrom and Keith Aucoin took a 2-on-1 into the Winnipeg zone. Ullstrom picked the corner with a wrist shot, beating Montoya to give the Islanders an early 1-0 lead.
Midway through the first period, Alexei Ponikarovsky scored for the Jets to tie the game at 1-1. Kyle Wellwood backhanded a pass from the right wing after wrapping behind the Islanders goal. Ponikarovsky deflected it from the slot for his first of the season.
Winnipeg took the lead five minutes into the second period on a bang-bang play in the Islanders zone. Andrew Ladd passed from behind the goal line to Nik Antropov, who fed Bryan Little in the slot and made the score 2-1.
Through two periods, the Islanders were outshot 23-15. The final tally was 35-25 in favor of Winnipeg, but the Islanders had another 41 shots that either missed the target or were blocked.
The Islanders look to regroup before their next game, Tuesday, Jan. 29 at Pittsburgh. Tuesday’s contest marks the fourth game of a five-game road trip.
Notes: Defenseman Thomas Hickey, who the Islanders claimed off waivers during Training Camp, made his NHL debut. The 23-year-old registered 12:22 of ice time and three shots on goal.
New York Islanders
16 Andrew Ladd - 80 Nik Antropov - 18 Bryan Little
9 Evander Kane - 12 Olli Jokinen - 26 Blake Wheeler
23 Alexei Ponikarovsky - 8 Alex Burmistrov - 13 Kyle Wellwood
17 James Wright - 19 Jim Slater - 22 Chris Thorburn
39 Tobias Enstrom - 33 Dustin Byfuglien
5 Mark Stuart - 6 Ron Hainsey
24 Grant Clitsome - 4 Paul Postma
35 Al Montoya
31 Ondrej Pavelec