|Freddy Meyer's goal capped an Islanders third-period comeback as New York claimed their fourth straight win with a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
Watch Meyer's game winning goal
Then, they lost yet another defenseman in the third period.
Yet somehow, the New York Islanders again found a way to win.
Freddy Meyer broke a 2-2 tie with 8:41 remaining in regulation ( 700K ) as the Isles erased a 2-0 deficit by scoring three times in the third period in a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks in front of a capacity crowd at Nassau Coliseum.
The Isles – who have won four in a row to pull within one point of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference – were forced to play the opening period without Ted Nolan. The coach missed the first 20 minutes because he was on the phone with his son, Jordan, who is a teammate of Mickey Renaud, the Windsor Spitfires captain who died suddenly on Monday.
"He was my son's teammate and good friend, and it was tragic," Nolan said. "Sometimes there's a lot more important things to me than a hockey game."
Already depleted on the blue line – the Isles are without Brendan Witt and Chris Campoli – matters weren’t helped when Andy Sutton went down with a hamstring injury late in the third period. He will be re-evaluated on Tuesday. New York will look to continue its playoff push on Wednesday night at Washington.
“We’ve talked about the importance of every game and every point,” Nolan said. “The only thing we can control is the way we work. In the third period, we found a way. It was a great comeback.”
After dominating the Atlanta Thrashers from start to finish on Saturday night, the Islanders came out sluggish on Monday and mustered only five shots on goal in a scoreless first period. San Jose took a 1-0 lead 2:19 into the second, when Marcel Goc came out from behind the net with the puck and roofed a shot over Rick DiPietro for his fifth goal of the season ( 700K ). The Sharks took the one-goal lead into the second intermission as the Isles were held to just four shots in the middle period.
San Jose received a scare during the second, when a blast by Isles defenseman Radek Martinek hit All-Star goalie Evgeni Nabokov in the mask, forcing him to briefly leave the game. He returned for the start of the third period.
"I had no idea where the puck went after I got hit," Nabokov said. "It was so painful, I went right down. I saw the shot all the way. ... I didn't have a concussion or anything."
He received an early boost when Joe Thornton gave the Sharks a 2-0 lead just 2:14 into the third period ( 700K ). The big center benefited from a broken play, as a deflected shot landed right on his stick. He collected the puck and ripped a shot past DiPietro for his 17th goal of the season.
"It seemed like we had the game right there," Thornton said. "Three mistakes cost us, and that was the game. I thought we played pretty good for 50 minutes. Guys need to realize that the playoff push started. Every team is good, and we have to go into each game thinking that way."
The Islanders finally got things rolling when Andy Hilbert notched his seventh goal of the season at 3:22 of the third ( 700K ). The gritty forward got to the front of the net, where he was able to poke Bill Guerin’s rebound past Nabokov to make it 2-1.
Mike Comrie tied the game with a highlight-reel goal just 59 seconds later ( 700K ). The Isles’ top center put the puck between the legs of Sharks defenseman Kyle McLaren before beating Nabokov five-hole to make it 2-2.
“It was a big win,” said Comrie, who has 18 goals this season. “We didn’t have a great first 40 minutes, but Teddy came in and told us to stick with the game plan and if we worked hard for 20 minutes, we’d be able to get the two points. We stuck with it and got some scoring chances and some big goals.”
Meyer scored his second game-winning goal of the season at the 11:19 mark, as he took a pass from Sean Bergenheim and ripped a shot off the right wing past Nabokov.
“I just saw some open ice on the right-hand side and carried it into the zone and fired a shot away,” Meyer said. “I was just trying to put it on net. I didn’t want it to get blocked or go the other way for a breakout. I was just doing whatever I could to get it on net. Guys are stepping up and making plays.”
Devils 5, Hurricanes 1 | Video
Looks like Ottawa and Montreal have some company.
Travis Zajac had a goal and an assist, as New Jersey coasted past Carolina at the Prudential Center on Monday afternoon to move into a three-way tie for the Eastern Conference lead with the Senators and Canadiens.
The Devils are now 6-1-2 in their last nine games. With the victory, they moved two points ahead of the idle Pittsburgh Penguins for the Atlantic Division lead.
"You have three teams tied up there," said Devils goalie Martin Brodeur, who made 21 saves.
"For us, Pittsburgh is only two points away and other teams are going to challenge us. We just want to move forward and not get overwhelmed by the situation."
New Jersey certainly didn’t seem overwhelmed on Monday. Zajac, Mike Mottau and Jay Pandolfo had all beaten Hurricanes goalie John Grahame before Jeff Hamilton finally got Carolina on the board at 6:17 of the second period. But Johnny Oduya scored just over three minutes later to restore the Devils’ three-goal lead.
"You just can't get down against that team," Hamilton said. "They will shut you down. That's why they are always one of the best teams in the East."
Zach Parise rounded out the scoring with 2.2 seconds remaining in the third period. It was his team-leading 23rd goal of the season. The Devils outshot the Hurricanes 10-6 in the final 20 minutes.
"It's much easier playing with the lead," Zajac said. "We've been able too keep some good teams off the scoreboard. We want to win and succeed. We've been playing great lately, getting leads and finishing off games."
Coyotes 4, Kings 0 | Video
|The Phoenix Coyotes blanked the Los Angeles Kings 4-0 on Monday night to give Wayne Gretzky, left, his 100th victory as a coach.
No. 99 picked up No. 100 on Monday night.
Radim Vrbata had a goal and two assists, and Mikael Tellqvist stopped all 33 shots he faced as Phoenix blanked host Los Angeles to give Wayne Gretzky his 100th victory as a coach.
"His skill level is tremendous," Gretzky said of Vrbata. "We knew he was going to score goals. But he's also played well defensively and has been a big part of our success."
The Coyotes have now won three in a row and improved to 6-0 on the season against the Kings. They’ve outscored Los Angeles by a margin of 21-7 in those contests.
“You’ve got to win divisional games,” Phoenix defenseman Ed Jovanovski said. “We know how important these points are, especially at this time of year, these so-called four-pointers. We’ve got a lot of them left, but we’ve just played them hard this year. I think in recent years this organization has really struggled against Anaheim, San Jose. It’s nice to get a few points against a team.”
Phoenix needed only 3:45 to get on the scoreboard, as Jovanovski scored on the power play to give his team a 1-0 lead. With Michael Cammalleri in the penalty box, Jovanovski fired a blast that appeared to have been redirected before going past Kings goalie Jason LaBarbera. Vrbata made it 2-0 just 1:21 later when he capitalized on a turnover by Dustin Brown.
"We didn't start very well. We took a penalty, and they scored on it, then they scored again," Kings coach Marc Crawford said. "It wasn't our night from that point on."
The Coyotes scored another pair of goals in the second period. Power forward Daniel Carcillo took a pass from Steven Reinprecht and ripped a shot past LaBarbera at 4:16 for his seventh goal of the season. Daniel Winnik put the game out of reach when he took a pass from Jovanovski and poked it past LaBarbera at 12:40.
Seventeen of the Kings’ 34 shots came in the third period, but Tellqvist – who did a sensational job in spelling No. 1 goalie Ilya Bryzgalov – was there to shut the door each time. Phoenix improved to 22-0-0 when scoring four or more goals.
“It’s always nice to win for this team, because it’s a great bunch of guys and it’s a lot of fun winning,” Tellqvist said. “Hopefully we continue to win here.”
Material from wire services, team websites and broadcast media were used in this report.