The New York Islanders showed their resilience once again, earning two points in a 4-3 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum. Blake Comeau tipped in a blast from Radek Martinek with just 57.3 seconds left in the overtime period.
Three times, that's how many times the Islanders took a one-goal lead in Tuesday night's contest at Nassau Coliseum. Even though the Maple Leafs leveled the score each time, the Islanders young roster showed the heart they needed to push through for an overtime win despite not playing their best game.
"You have to keep battling and that's the resiliency of our team right now," Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano said. "Night in and night out, we're showing (resiliency). I thought that we were pretty good on the bench tonight and when we got down, we still believed in one another. We believed that we were going to get that next one."
Capuano continued, "You got to give a lot of credit to Toronto because they battled back and they got pucks to the net. They got rewarded for that tonight."
Even though it was a tip-in, Comeau was happy to get that game-winning goal. He had multiple attempts during the Islanders 40-shot night, including three shots on goal, but had two additional attempts bounce off the post.
"It felt good," Comeau said of his goal. "Everyone was getting some chances. (Matt) Moulson hitting the post, I hit a couple posts. It just seems like we weren't catching those little breaks, but I thought we did a good job of sticking together and sticking to what we had to do. It was a big two points."
Throughout the game, there were five shots that rung off the posts. Martinek, who took the initial overtime shot from the blueline, was happy for the Isles power forward.
"Sometimes it's like that, you get great scoring-chances and you hit the post or goalie or miss the net, and sometimes it's just a little tip and it goes in," Martinek said.
Luke Schenn #2 of the Toronto Maple Leafs gets pinned against the boards by Matt Martin #17 of the New York Islanders on March 8, 2011 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
In the effort, Matt Martin delivered 14 hits, a career-high and Islanders season record. He also earned a breakaway at 7:45 of the second period, but was hooked and as Leafs goalie James Reimer butterflied, he gloved the puck. With his shot saved, Martin was given a penalty shot but was unsuccessful on the attempt.
To start the second period, Islanders fourth-line center Zenon Konopka and faceoff king scored his second goal of the season after winning a faceoff in the offensive zone and sending the puck to Justin DiBenedetto, who passed the puck back to Milan Jurcina on the blueline for a slapshot. Konopka skated to the crease, screening goaltender James Reimer and redirected the puck for the goal at 2:15.
But 34 seconds later, Keith Aulie netted the puck to tie the score at one.
Then at 11:17, Frans Nielsen tipped in a puck to give the Islanders their second one-goal lead of the night. Andrew MacDonald's slap shot from the blueline was deflected by Kyle Okposo and bounced off the post before Nielsen shoveled in the rebound.
The Islanders held on to the score for a while, but with 1:16 remaining in the second, Tim Brent evened the score for the second time.
“The late one (goal) in the second and the early one in the third was tough," Montoya said. "It was tough on me. I knew we deserved better, we deserved a win and it was kind of a weird game. The chances came in punches, there was laws in the game and these guys battled."
Michael Grabner scored at 8:40 of the third period, giving the Islanders their third one-goal lead of the contest when Comeau found the Isles rookie through the slot for a wrist shot that beat Reimer low blocker side.
Nikolai Kulemin tied the score for the third and final time, just 1:08 after Grabner handed the Islanders their third one-goal lead, which would inevitably send the game into overtime.
Once again, the first period was scoreless and Al Montoya has remained without a goal-against in every first period he's played since becoming an Islander. He made 24 saves for the win.
"He had a good game again," Islanders center Frans Nielsen said. "He had some key saves for us, good saves when we need them and that's what you need to win hockey games. I think I speak for everyone that we're very happy he's in this room and on this team."
Montoya is thrilled to be where he's at right now and when asked what he thought was neat about this team, he responded "Everything."
The Islanders goaltender continued, "The youth, the enthusiasm. Every time you come in this room, someone wants to do something, someone wants to be the guy. It's not one guy every time. It's every individual in this room, which is pretty neat."