Frans Nielsen’s patented backhanded shootout move and two points on the Islanders perfect power play led the Islanders to a 4-3 shootout win over the Carolina Hurricanes at RBC Center on Tuesday night. The win is the Islanders third in a row, which matches the Islanders longest win streak of the season.
“We needed the two points more than we needed the one,” Islanders center John Tavares said. “We knew this win would put us ahead of them (in the Eastern Conference Standings). The two points in regulation would have been nice and it wasn’t pretty, but we found a way. It’s a good win for us even though we weren’t at our best.”
PA Parenteau was the first shooter in the skills competition. He drove the net hard and made a quick shot high glove side that beat goaltender Cam Ward. Jussi Jokinen would come back to beat Evgeni Nabokov, but Nielsen’s backhand was the game-deciding goal.
Tavares retook the Islanders scoring lead with an assist on all three Isles goals. The final regulation goal, which tied the score at three with 1:30 remaining in regulation, was timed perfectly off a cross-ice pass through traffic from Tavares.
“Ever since I’ve been with the Islanders, he’s a guy that’s been improving every day, but right now he’s really taken this team on his back,” Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “His strength on the puck, that’s the big thing, his puck protection. He’s got the ability to hold the puck a little extra to make plays that he’s making.”
Tavares pass created the scoring opportunity for Kyle Okposo, who netted the puck from two feet outside the crease and just above the goal line.
“I just tried to shake the D coming around the net,” Tavares said of the play. “I took a quick peak coming around the net and I saw Kyle in the high slot. I noticed he had momentum going towards the back post and I had a good feeling he was going to be there from seeing his momentum.”
The Islanders power play was on point for the second straight game, as the Islanders were perfect going 2-for-2. Nielsen tied the score at two, scoring at 4:50 of the third period as he collected Mark Streit’s initial shot from the point that bounced off the end boards.
“Our power play scored both goals, it wasn’t until late in the game that we got our first even strength goal,” Capuano said. “So it was good that our power play came through like that.”
Matt Moulson, who put the Islanders ahead 1-0 at 3:40 of the first period, also scored a power play goal. He recorded his team-leading 18th goal of the season after Tavares’ one-touch pass below the goal line found his stick through traffic in the slot. Moulson beat Ward high blocker side.
Anthony Stewart tied the score 37 seconds later, 1-1, redirecting a puck through the slot after Carolina won a crucial faceoff to Nabokov’s right. The second period could have changed the Isles game as a goal from Brent Sutter at 3:13 put the Hurricanes ahead 2-1.
“Going into the third, we knew we had to dig deep,” Capuano said. “We changed one of the lines there, got us a power play early on in the third, but we didn’t want to change too much.”
Chad LaRose would score Carolina’s final regulation goal at 15:46 of the third period to put the Canes up 3-2 and put them in the position to, fight adversity and earn two points. Okposo’s game-tying goal with 1:30 remaining in regulation sent the Isles to their first come-from-behind win of the season once trailing after 40 minutes of play.
The Islanders continue on their road trip with a game against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night, followed by a game Saturday night in Phoenix before returning to Long Island.
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