John Tavares had his second-straight two goal game, but the Toronto Maple Leafs scored a late third period goal to give them a 3-2 win at the Air Canada Centre.
With the score tied at two goals apiece, former Islander Jason Blake gave Toronto a late one-goal lead with 4:05 left in the third period with his fifth goal of the season in what would be the game winning goal.
The play was started by Mikhail Grabovski, whose forecheck forced Mark Streit to turn the puck over to Blake near the Islanders net. As Blake retrieved the puck close to Islanders goaltender Dwayne Roloson, he fired a wrist shot that was just able to get through Roloson's pads to give the Maple Leafs a 3-2 lead, and what would be the game.
The Islanders put on an impressive third period comeback which they were down 2-0 entering the final period, led by Tavares' pair.
Tavares got the Islanders on the scoresheet early in the third period with a power play goal to cut Toronto's lead to 2-1. Working with a 5-on-3 advantage, the Islanders put the most pressure on Toronto goaltender Vesa Toskala that they have all game.
Kyle Okposo, manning the point, sent a cross ice pass to a waiting Tavares who was located at his usual spot across the goal line. The hometown kid one-timed the puck past Toskala for his third goal in two games, and cutting the Toronto lead to one goal.
"He's very good around the net, and it was good to see him bury those because he had some chances like that early in the year," Islanders Head Coach Scott Gordon said. "It looks like he found his spot."
Tavares then scored his second goal of the period on another power play goal to tie the game up at 2-2. With Jamal Mayers serving a boarding minor, the Islanders started the power play off with a crucial Tavares face off win.
Rob Schremp, who had missed the previous 11 games as a healthy scratch, coralled the faceoff win and sent it back to Okposo at the point. Okposo moved down the half-boards and sent a cross ice pass to Tavares down by the goal line and put it past Toskala to tie the game up.
The goal gives Tavares 15 on the season, which puts him ahead of Matt Moulson for the team lead.
"It was nice that we came back, but we couldn't close the deal. It was frustrating it went they way it did," Gordon said. "After that first period it wasn't looking so promising.
The Maple Leafs struck first in the opening period, scoring twice to take an early two-goal lead.
Francois Beauchemin started the scoring off for the Maple Leafs with a power play goal 6:02 in to the first period. With Matt Moulson in the penalty box serving a holding the stick minor, the Maple Leafs took their power play, ranked 14th in the NHL, to work.
The Leafs started to work the puck around the perimeter when Thomas Kaberle sent a pass to Beauchemin, who was positioned just in front of the Toronto blue line. The Toronto defenseman one-timed the Kaberle pass past Roloson to give the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead on his third goal of the season.
Toronto took a 2-0 lead with 5:20 left in the first period on Ian White's fifth goal of the season. Although not technically considered a power play goal, the play developed just as a Matt Moulson penalty was expiring.
Niklas Hagman sent a deep pass to Matt Stajan, who drew three Islanders towards the left side, leaving White on the right point open. Stajan then sent the puck out to the point to a waiting White, who fired a slapshot past Roloson's blocker for the two-goal Toronto lead.
Both teams were scoreless in the second period, but the Islanders had their fair share of scoring chances.
Kyle Okposo had two great scoring chances in the second period for the Islanders best opportunities of the period. Okposo, who has been mired in a scoring slump in the past few games, led a 2-on-1 rush with Matt Moulson and got a good hard slapshot on Toskala, which the Maple Leaf goaltender turned aside.
Just a few seconds later and deep in the Toronto zone, John Tavares sent a entering pass to a streaking Okposo. The puck unfortunately for Okposo bounced off the inside of his blade and deflected high on Toskala, to which he kept out of the Toronto net.
"We know he's been frustrated not being able to score any goals," Gordon said. "If he's setting up, and somebody else is putting them in, we'll take that."
Three Stars of the Game:
1. Jason Blake, TOR: Scored game winning goal 2. John Tavares, NYI: Scored two goals in second straight two-goal game. 3. Vesa Toskala, TOR: 30 saves for the win.
Slapshots: Toronto outshot the Islanders, 35-32...Toronto was 1-for-5 on the power play, while the Islanders successful twice on four man advantages...Sean Bergenheim (rib) and Tim Jackman (hip pointer) were the Islanders scratches...This was the second meeting between both teams, and the last in Toronto this season, with the Islanders prevailing in the previous meeting, 4-3 in overtime thanks in part to a 58-save performance by Dwayne Roloson...Islanders now hold an all-time record of 61-54-11 against Toronto.
Feeling a little blue: Toronto wore their "road" whites at home Wednesday just to mix things up a bit and give their fans a fresh look, forcing the Islanders to wear their "home" blues at the Air Canada Centre. Islanders General Manager Garth Snow was contacted earlier this week to get approval for the Maple Leafs to wear their road whites.