Cizikas, McDonald and linemate Matt Martin were catalysts for the Islanders all night, as the energy line revived the team after a slow start in a deadlocked third period. Cizikas scored with 4:37 to play, but it was McDonald – who had a goal in the first period – who laid out on his stomach to poke the puck to his linemate waiting in the slot for the game-winning goal.
“That was just a desperation play on my part,” McDonald said. “I wanted to take the puck wide, but it rolled up on me. I saw Casey before I got the puck, so I knew where he was going to be. I was just trying to get it deep into the zone… just a desperation play and it was fortunate that it worked out.”
That desperation pulled the Islanders out of a sluggish third period, as the home team teetered on the brink of letting a 2-2 deadlock fall the wrong way. The Oilers outshot the Islanders 8-0 at the start of the third period and saw Jordan Eberle slide a puck off the post early in the frame.
“Everything they had [in the third period] we gave them,” Cizikas said, blood showing from stitches over his left eye. “We turned pucks over, we didn’t get pucks in deep. We weren’t playing fast the way we need to. It goes to show when we get away from our game, that’s what happens. But we found a way to get the two points tonight and that’s all that matters.”
The Oilers drew first blood in the opening frame, scoring the first of their two power-play goals. Ryan Hamilton tipped a Nail Yakupov shot past Jaroslav Halak at 10:17 of the opening frame.
The Islanders tied the score three minutes later, as McDonald buried his second goal in as many games since being recalled from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. McDonald dished the puck out to Matt Martin in front of the net, before chipping the rebound past Viktor Fasth.
The lead didn’t hold up, as the Oilers tied the score with their second power-play goal of the game, courtesy of Anton Lander. Eberle, the Oilers leading scorer, fed a wide-open Lander in the slot for a one-timer that beat Halak.
“Certainly special teams – at times – have really killed our momentum,” captain John Tavares said. “Our power play and penalty kill are something that have to be a lot better for us. On the other side of things we just stayed with it.”
Halak made 34 saves Tuesday, including all 15 in the third period, for his third straight win. Fasth stopped 25-of-28 shots in the loss.
With the win, the Islanders beat the Oilers for the eighth straight game at Nassau Coliseum, likely the last time the two 1980’s powerhouses play on Hempstead Turnpike.
The Islanders continue their four-game homestand Thursday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.