Nielsen's breakaway goal 24 seconds into overtime gave the Islanders a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night in a game that got to OT only because of Roloson's heroics. He made 17 of his 30 saves in the third period, denying wave after wave of Boston attackers.
"We didn't have a good (third) period, for sure," Nielsen said. "Rollie came up big for us. That shows what it means to have a good goalie -- even when you have those minutes in a game where you're being pushed back, he comes up with the big save for us."
The Isles won it when Blake Comeau slid a pass under defenseman Andrew Ference's stick to Nielsen, who raced in and lifted a backhander over Tim Thomas to give the Islanders the victory on a night they were dominated for much of the game.
"I almost lost control of it -- I was looking up and it was spinning off my blade," said the Danish center. "I saw he was off-balance."
Thomas said he could see the play developing.
"I didn't know if he was going to pick up the pass for the breakaway or not," he said. "He was coming extremely fast, and he almost started to lose it. He ended up making a great move, considering how fast he was moving and that he was losing it.
"It was way faster than a shootout."
Isles coach Scott Gordon said he originally didn’t see who was going in on the breakaway, but was relieved when he saw it was Nielsen, one of the team's best one-on-one players.
"When I saw the '51 (Nielsen's number),' I'm like, 'This is going in,'" he said. "He excels in that area."
The victory ended a three-game losing streak for the Islanders, who are 2-0-1 against the Bruins this season. Boston is 8-1-2 in its last 11 games.
"Record-wise, it's huge for us," Isles coach Scott Gordon said. "They're a top team in the League, and how they've been playing in the last 11 games. It's certainly their best game against us -- and it's probably a little payback from the first game (a 4-3 shootout loss in Boston) where we felt we deserved the two points."
The Islanders, playing their first home game since Nov. 27, took advantage of an early power play after Boston was called for having too many men on the ice at 3:31. Rob Schremp, picked up on waivers from Edmonton before the season, scored his first NHL goal at 3:58, banging a rebound off Thomas and into the net off a scramble.
Schremp's goal was the first by an Islander other than John Tavares since Dec. 3. The No. 1 pick in June's Entry Draft had scored the Isles' last five goals.
Boston's first good chance came 7:45 into the game when Patrice Bergeron was left open in the left circle on a 3-on-2 rush. But Roloson got a piece of the shot with his glove. Roloson also got a piece of Blake Wheeler's wide-open wrister from the left circle just over two minutes later, as Boston began to dominate play.
Marc Savard hit the crossbar behind Roloson with just under six minutes left in the period, but the Bruins tied the score at 14:23 when Michael Ryder used Isles defenseman Brendan Witt as a screen and zipped a 30-foot wrister from the high slot past Roloson's glove for his eighth goal of the season.
The Bruins had a goal disallowed at 18:19 when Marco Sturm swatted the rebound of Savard's shot into the net with a high stick. Referee Dan O'Rourke's call stood after a brief video review.
The Islanders, already thin on defense, played the last two-plus periods with only five defensemen after Jack Hillen left late in the first period with a foot injury and didn't return.
Boston took its first lead at 9:26 of the second period when Vladimir Sobotka forced a turnover at the Islanders' blue line. Ryder picked up the puck, raced down the left side and backhanded a pass to David Krejci, who flicked it into a half-empty net for his fifth of the season.
The Bruins continued to dominate play physically, but Tavares helped the Islanders get even at 14:42 when he picked up a pass from Kyle Okposo behind the net and threw a no-look pass into the slot, where Matt Moulson took a quick backhander that caromed off a defender and into the net. It was Moulson's 15th of the season, tying him with Tavares for the team lead -- and was the Isles' first even-strength goal in four games.
Thomas said Moulson's goal was a symptom of the frustrations the Bruins went through.
"The second goal was going wide and it hit off someone and went in," he said. "There were some bounces."
The Bruins came out revved up in the third period, getting the first 10 shots of the period while completely dominating play -- but couldn't score.
Roloson preserved the tie 4:44 into the third period when he robbed Mark Recchi with a glove stop after Recchi was left all alone in the slot, 15 feet in front of the net during a power play. Recchi looked at the ceiling in disbelief after Roloson made the stop and held the puck.
Roloson made another big stop eight minutes into the period, stopping Bergeron on a clean break down the left side.
"Roloson played a good game. He's a good goalie," Thomas said. "He's been playing very well this year, at least every time I've seen him play. You have to make a good play to beat him, like we did on our second goal. You're not going to beat him on a normal shot."
1 - 0 NYI
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 BOS
2 - 2 Tie