The Toronto Maple Leafs had just enough gas left in the tank Thursday night.
Toronto came to Long Island for the second half of a back-to-back and its third game in four nights -- and it looked like the Maple Leafs were gassed when the New York Islanders forced overtime with a pair of third-period goals.
But Dion Phaneuf scored 1:11 into overtime to give the weary Maple Leafs a 5-4 victory heading into a three-day break in their schedule. Toronto doesn't play until the New Jersey Devils come to Air Canada Centre on Monday.
Nazem Kadri's first career hat trick helped the Maple Leafs take a 4-2 lead. But Kyle Okposo led the Islanders' third-period comeback by setting up Andrew MacDonald's first of the season at 5:31 before tying the game at 10:08. Okposo blocked a shot at his own blue line, raced down the right wing and ripped a shot from inside the right circle into the far top corner past James Reimer.
Islanders forward Michael Grabner hit the post on the first shift of overtime, but Phaneuf won it less than a minute later when he stepped around Okposo and wristed a 15-footer from the slot that Evgeni Nabokov got a piece of but couldn't stop.
Kadri, the Maple Leafs' first pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, has been unable to keep a full-time NHL job until this season. He now has 21 points -- more than the combined total of his three previous stints with Toronto.
"I did the best I could and it felt great to help the team win," Kadri said. "That was a huge second point for us to get."
Kadri scored once in the first period and twice in the second for the first hat trick by Toronto player since Joffrey Lupul had one on Nov. 2, 2011. Kadri is the first Toronto player to score three goals in a game at Nassau Coliseum since Paul Henderson did it exactly 39 years ago: Feb. 28, 1974.
"There's no question he is a gifted player," Phaneuf said of Kadri. "I'm happy for him and I'm happy for us because we stuck with our game plan and kept battling after the Islanders tied it. This was a big bounce-back game for us."
The Islanders fell to 2-8-1 at Nassau Coliseum this season and are 0-2-1 on a seven-game homestand that continues Sunday against the Ottawa Senators. For most of the night, New York showed less energy than a Toronto team that lost 5-2 to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday and was playing its third game in 72 hours.
"After the second period, we had a talk with the coaching staff," said Islanders forward Josh Bailey, who opened the scoring. "We knew we needed to get pucks deeper and we did, and we got a few goals from it."
There were no penalties called by referees Mark Joannette and Ian Walsh; it was the first penalty-free game in the NHL since the Edmonton Oilers and Toronto played one Feb. 6, 2012.
Reimer, playing for the first time since injuring his knee Feb. 11, made 23 saves as the Maple Leafs improved to 9-4-0 away from Air Canada Centre. Toronto succeeded in keeping New York star John Tavares off the scoresheet; the Islanders are 0-7-1 this season when Tavares doesn't get a point.
Nabokov finished with 23 saves.
"We’ve been inconsistent obviously," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "That's an area that we talk about as a team. We have to stop talking about the structure and the framework. We know what our roster is. We know how we have to play. We just have to consistently believe that's what's going to get it done on our team. When we try to do things that are too cute and when we don't manage the puck properly and make it a short track, that's when we get into trouble."
Toronto had the better of the play in the early minutes, taking five of the game's first six shots -- but New York put its one opportunity into the net. Okposo carried down the left side deep into the Toronto zone and backhanded a pass to Bailey in the slot. His one-timer found the back of the net at 3:34 for his first of the season.
Bailey barely missed a second goal three minutes later when he beat Reimer cleanly on a 2-on-1 break only to ring the post.
Kadri got the Maple Leafs even at 8:31 on an excellent individual effort. He took a pass from Mark Fraser in his own zone and raced up the left side, weaved from the left circle into the slot to avoid a sliding MacDonald and snapped a shot past Nabokov.
Grabner earned a penalty shot when he was hooked by Phil Kessel on a breakaway with 4:04 remaining in the period, but fired high and wide.
Casey Cizikas' perseverance helped put the Islanders back in front 6:22 into the second period. Cizikas had his pass blocked on a 2-on-1 break, but followed the puck into the corner and slid a pass to an onrushing Lubomir Visnovsky, who took one step before blasting a shot over Reimer's blocker for his first goal since joining the Islanders earlier this month.
Kadri tied the game at 8:55 on a shot that Nabokov missed. The Toronto forward came in 1-on-2 and fired a long wrister that hit Nabokov's glove and trickled into the net.
The Maple Leafs took their first lead 1:30 later after a bad line change by the Islanders led to a 3-on-2 rush for Toronto. Nabokov denied James van Riemsdyk's first shot but was helpless to stop the rebound. The goal was van Riemsdyk's 12th, one more than he had all last season with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Kadri completed his hat trick at 14:12 with another superb individual effort, racing through the neutral zone and down the right wing before stepping around Visnovsky and snapping a wrist shot from the lower right circle past Nabokov for his eighth goal of the season.
"Dion grabbed the hat-trick puck for me so I'm really excited to have that," said Kadri, whose previous hat trick came when he played for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. "I have high expectations for myself, so this is a proud moment for me."
Okposo, the best Islanders player on the ice, fueled a third-period comeback as his team finally played with some desperation. It earned New York one point on a night when it could have had two.
"I don't know if we play better, but we do play more desperate in those situations," Okposo said. "We just have to play 60 minutes. We haven't done that consistently enough. We've had too many mental lapses like we did in the second period tonight."
Material from team media was used in this report
|Josh Bailey (1) ASST: Kyle Okposo (5), Andrew MacDonald (3)|
1 - 0 NYI
|Nazem Kadri (6) ASST: Mark Fraser (3)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Lubomir Visnovsky (1) ASST: Casey Cizikas (5), Colin McDonald (3)|
2 - 1 NYI
|Nazem Kadri (7) ASST: Mark Fraser (4), Cody Franson (12)|
2 - 2 Tie
|James van Riemsdyk (12) ASST: David Steckel (1), Colton Orr (2)|
3 - 2 TOR
|Nazem Kadri (8) ASST: Michael Kostka (7), Carl Gunnarsson (5)|
4 - 2 TOR
|Andrew MacDonald (1) ASST: Kyle Okposo (6), Mark Streit (7)|
4 - 3 TOR
|Kyle Okposo (2) ASST: NONE|
4 - 4 Tie
|Dion Phaneuf (4) ASST: Mikhail Grabovski (4), Clarke MacArthur (5)|
5 - 4 TOR