Brock Nelson scored at 2:42 of overtime to lead the New York Islanders to a 6-5 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Barclays Center. This marked the first time the Islanders won a game that they trailed after two periods (1-12-2) this season.
All five Maple Leafs goals were scored by rookies. The visitors took a 5-4 lead with 2:01 left in regulation on William Nylander’s goal, but Andrew Ladd tied the game at 5-5 just 32 seconds later, and the two clubs headed to overtime.
This game lived up to its billing as both teams played wide-open, ’80s-style hockey. The final shots on goal were 34-32 Islanders but neither team was particularly effective on defense, and the game featured plenty of quality scoring chances for both teams.
Nelson had two goals and an assist for the Islanders while Josh Bailey had a goal and two helpers. Rookie sensation Auston Matthews had a goal for Toronto and led the Leafs with five shots on goal.
The Maple Leafs did pick up a valuable point in the standings to pull into third place in the Atlantic Division, while the Islanders gained two points on the Flyers, who lost earlier Monday night. The Isles are now just three points behind Philadelphia and have three games in hand.
The game got off to a fast start as Ryan Strome scored just 1:23 into the contest to give the Islanders the early lead. Strome was able to score on his own rebound on the play.
The goal energized the Islanders and they played well in the opening six minutes of the game.
The Maple Leafs bounced back and picked up the pace in the middle of the period. First, Nikita Soshnikov tied the game at 13:27. Then, Auston Matthews scored on a wrist shot off a give-and-go 1:24 later to put Toronto ahead 2-1.
The Islanders tied the game with less than two minutes left in the period on Nikolay Kulemin’s ninth goal of the season, set up by a nice play by Casey Cizikas.
The Islanders outshot the Leafs 13-11 in the first period but the teams went into the first intermission tied 2-2.
The Maple Leafs came out and used their speed to take control of the tempo early in the second period.
The Islanders failed to clear the puck and Mitchell Marner was left all alone in the deep slot where he easily beat goalie Thomas Greiss to give Toronto a 3-2 edge.
Then, the Leafs scored a shorthanded goal when Zach Hyman cashed in on a 2-on-1. The Islanders put a lot of pressure on the Leafs’ goal before the rush came back the other way. The Maple Leafs led 4-2 nearly halfway through the period.
The Islanders bounced back and pulled to within a goal at 13:48. Strome made a pretty pass to Nelson, who beat Andersen high to the glove side with a one-timer that made the score 4-3 after 40 minutes.
The pace slowed down a bit early in the third period as neither team was able to score for the first 12 minutes, although both teams had chances.
The Islanders tied the game with 6:30 left in the third period when Josh Bailey scored from in close. The Isles had two players in front of the Toronto net as the Maple Leafs did a poor job playing positional defense.
The Leafs took a 5-4 lead on Nylander’s with 2:01 left. The play was set up when Islanders rookie Anthony Beauvillier broke his stick, giving the Leafs a distinct advantage. Nylander was left all alone by the far post and easily beat Greiss to give the visitors a late lead.
Doug Weight pulled his goalie for a sixth attacker and it paid off quickly as Ladd scored with 1:29 left in regulation time. Ladd set himself up in a prime position in the slot and deflected the puck past Andersen to score the tying goal.
The Leafs had the first quality chance to win in overtime when Morgan Rielly had a chance on a 2-on-1, but Greiss made a big save to keep the Islanders in the game.
The game ended on Nelson’s goal on a 3-on-1 break that Andersen simply had no chance on.
The win was a huge one for the Islanders, who avoided a three-game winless streak and got back into the thick of the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference.
NYI – Ryan Strome (8) assisted by Brock Nelson and Johnny Boychuk
TOR – Nikita Soshnikov (4) assisted by Nikita Zaitsev and Morgan Rielly
TOR – Auston Matthews (24) assisted by Morgan Rielly
NYI – Nikolay Kulemin (9) assisted by Casey Cizikas and Shane Prince
TOR – Mitchell Marner (14) assisted by Tyler Bozek and Matt Hunwick
TOR – Zach Hyman (8) (SH) assisted by Nikita Zaitsev
NYI – Brock Nelson (12) assisted by Ryan Strome and Anders Lee
NYI – Josh Bailey (11) assisted by Anders Lee and Dennis Seidenberg
TOR – William Nylander (14) assisted by Connor Carrick and Nazem Kadri
NYI – Andrew Ladd (12) assisted by Josh Bailey and Nick Leddy
NYI – Brock Nelson (13) assisted by Josh Bailey and Calvin de Haan
THW Three Stars
First: Brock Nelson (2 goals, GWG, assist)
Second: Josh Bailey (goal, 2 assists)
Third: William Nylander (goal)
New York Islanders vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Wells Fargo Center – 7:00 PM EST Thursday, Feb. 9
Broadcast Channels: NBCSN, TCN-PH
2016-17 Season Series: Nov. 3, 2016 Flyers 3, Islanders 2 (OT); Jan. 22, 2017: Flyers 3, Islanders 2 (OT)
Dallas Stars vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Air Canada Centre – 7:30 PM EST Tuesday, Feb. 7
Broadcast Channels: Fox Sports SW-Plus, TSN-4
2016-17 Season Series: Jan. 31, 2017: Stars 6, Maple Leafs 3
Long time hockey writer and author of the new book, “Ice Wars: The Complete History of New York’s Greatest Modern Sports Rivalry.” It tells the story behind every game between the Rangers and Islanders dating back to 1972 and features profiles of more than 80 players from both teams and quotes from more than 50 exclusive interviews from players, coaches and broadcasters from both teams.