The New York Islanders turned an offensive spark into a full-out blitz Monday night, scoring seven third-period goals en route to a 7-4 comeback win over the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.
Seven different Islanders scored in the third-period, as the team erased a 3-0 deficit at the start of the final frame, stunning Vancouver. The offensive outburst tied the club record for goals in a period, set on Dec. 23, 1978 against the New York Rangers.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever been a part of a game like that,” Kyle Okposo, who finished the game with three assists, said. “In the second period we were extremely flat… We came out in the third and [Josh] Bailey got a big goal for us. We smelled blood and rolled from there.”
The Islanders power play revived the team in the third period, converting three times in the opening 3:36. Bailey put the Islanders on the board, burying a cross-ice feed, while Ryan Strome and Calvin de Haan scored on an extended two-man advantage. Strome finished off some pretty passing around the perimeter, while de Haan’s tying goal deflected off Shawn Matthias and past Eddie Lack.
“Our power play was huge tonight,” head coach Jack Capuano said. “We made some adjustments. We got pucks to the net. That got us back in the game. I’ll give our guys credit, we were down bodies, but they had the will and determination.”
The Islanders took the lead 2:46 later on Frans Nielsen’s 20thgoal of the season. Nielsen’s goal was set up by Anders Lee, who drove to the net hard, causing confusion around the Canucks crease. With Lack out of position and bodies diving all around, Nielsen calmly corralled a loose puck and buried into the unguarded cage.
“[20 goals] is something I’ve always wanted,” Nielsen said. “I always believed I could do it. I’ve always felt that every season I created enough chances to get there over the whole season. It was fun to finally get there.”
Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev tied the score 3:32 later, but the wild period did not end there. Ten seconds after Tanev’s goal, Matt Martin scored the game winner, sending a backhander past Lack. Colin McDonald set up the play by rushing the Canucks goaltender behind the net and feeding Martin out front. The assist extended McDonald’s point streak to four games (two goals, two assists).
Lee scored the insurance goal for the Islanders at 11:45, while Cal Clutterbuck iced the game with a long-range empty-netter at 19:42.
The seven-goal rally completely changed the narrative of the game through the first 40 minutes. Smithtown, NY native Chris Higgins put the Canucks up 1-0 with a power-play goal in the first period, while Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler each scored second period goals. The Islanders were limited to 13 shots in the first two periods, compared to 15 in the final 20 minutes.
“It feels pretty good coming home, having put seven goals up in the third period,” Travis Hamonic said. “I think it’s something we really needed as a group.”
The win gives the Islanders five-of-eight possible points on their four-game road trip. The Islanders get a three-day break before hosting the San Jose Sharks Friday night at Nassau Coliseum. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.
NOTE: Michael Grabner left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return.