The Anaheim Ducks own the longest winning streak in franchise history and first place in the overall standings after becoming the latest team to take advantage of the New York Islanders' inability to hold a two-goal lead.
The Ducks stretched their winning streak to eight games by scoring four times in the third period for a 5-3 victory at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night. Ryan Getzlaf had a hat trick and assisted on the go-ahead goal by Kyle Palmieri that broke a 3-3 tie with 6:16 remaining.
Palmieri, who was born on Long Island and grew up in New Jersey, had the overtime winner Friday night against the New Jersey Devils. He also had the game-winners against the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers during a road trip earlier in the season.
"We might have to have him play in this area a lot more," coach Bruce Boudreau said with a laugh. "He’s a streaky scorer, as most goal scorers are, and that was a tremendous goal he scored. He’s feeling it right now, and when he’s feeling it, he’s a pretty good player."
Getzlaf completed his hat trick by hitting the empty net with 22 seconds remaining, and Boudreau said his captain was the difference-maker as the Ducks rallied from a 3-1 deficit after two periods.
He put it upon himself that he was going to take this team," Boudreau said after the Ducks improved to 9-0-2 in their past 11 games. "Everybody rode with him. He was the catalyst for sure. He wasn’t going to be denied."
The victory moved the Ducks (26-7-5) into first place in the overall standings with 57 points, one more than the Chicago Blackhawks and two more than the Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins.
"Our group did a great job keeping our composure throughout this game," Getzlaf said. "We were able to come back and win the third period like we want to."
For the sixth time this season, the Islanders were unable to turn a two-goal advantage into two points. All six games have come at home, and five have seen them up by two goals in the third period. New York has been outscored 43-22 in the third-period this season and is 4-3-3 when leading after 40 minutes.
"Our third periods have been absolutely horrendous," Islanders captain John Tavares said. "Whether the calls go against you or not, you still have to find a way to get the job done."
Mathieu Perreault got the tying goal midway through the third period before Palmieri jumped on a loose puck after a faceoff, swept across the front of the crease and scored his sixth goal of the season, beating Nabokov with a backhander.
"The main focus tonight was the discipline and the decision-making with the puck, with the size of the guys they have," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "They can wear you down, and they have some offensive [defensemen] who can jump into the play and give you problems.
"I thought our D did a good job for the first 40 minutes. After that, we could have made simple plays but we iced the puck and that resulted in two goals. For whatever reason, we tried to hold the puck too long, and that doesn't work against a Stanley Cup-caliber team."
Rookie Frederik Andersen made 18 saves for Anaheim. Nabokov stopped 26 shots.
"To turn the page on the second period, it was a nice win," Andersen said after becoming the third goaltender in NHL history to win nine of his first 10 career decisions. "We knew we could come back."
The Islanders, who won in regulation for the first time since Nov. 12 by beating the New York Rangers on Friday night, grabbed the lead 11:27 into the opening period. Tavares won an offensive-zone draw back to defenseman Andrew MacDonald, who slipped a pass to Kyle Okposo in the high slot. Andersen stopped Okposo's blast through traffic, but couldn't control the rebound, and Vanek snapped it home from just outside the crease.
After New York outshot Anaheim 9-8 in the first period, the Ducks dominated most of the second and outshot the Islanders 10-5 but came out down two goals after a late-period letdown.
Anaheim spent the first 15 minutes of the period firing away at Nabokov and finally tied the game with 4:50 left in the period. Getzlaf missed the net from the slot, but got his own rebound off the end boards and backhanded a shot that hit Nabokov and slid into the net.
The Ducks looked to be poised to take the lead after Tavares was called for holding 43 seconds later. But the Islanders killed the penalty easily and scored two seconds after Tavares stepped out of the box when Vanek raced down the right side and blew a slap shot past Andersen from the faceoff dot. It was his 13th of the season and third in two games.
Nielsen gave the Islanders a 3-1 lead 57 seconds later. Josh Bailey's pass sprung Nielsen down the right side, and his backhander from below the dot got past Andersen as Michael Grabner crashed the crease, bringing a defenseman with him.
Getzlaf gave got the Ducks within a goal 1:10 into the third period by following his own shot. He fired from the left point into traffic in front of Nabokov, went to the slot, picked up a loose puck and slammed it into the net for his 18th of the season.
Perreault tied the game at 10:28. The Ducks won a faceoff after an icing, and he went to the net to fire Daniel Winnik's pass from the right boards past Nabokov for his seventh of the season.
"We have to learn to play a North-South game, not an East-West game," Capuano said. "Tonight was a prime example of what you do when you don't move the puck and you play in your own end."
Material from team media was used in this report.