On Dec. 16, the Islanders beat Anaheim, ending a stretch in which they lost 20 of 21 games. Since then, though, they've been as good as anyone in the East -- as the Boston Bruins found out on Friday night.
Matt Moulson's power-play goal with 2 seconds left in the second period started a comeback and Michael Grabner and Jack Hillen scored early in the third as the Islanders rallied to beat the Boston Bruins 4-2 at the Nassau Coliseum.
Beginning with the win against Anaheim, the Islanders have now earned 49 points in 41 games -- matching the Bruins for the most in the League during that span. They're still 13th in the East, but moved within 10 points of the eighth-place New York Rangers in the East -- and still think they have a chance.
"They're all big games," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "This group believes in each other."
PA Parenteau added an empty-net goal after he was hauled down with an open path to the net, and Al Montoya made 26 saves for New York. The Islanders have won 12 of 17 games since the All-Star break and finished 4-0-1 on a five-game homestand.
"Confidence and belief in one another, for sure. We've got a young group in there," Capuano said of his team's success. "They're focused, their attention to detail is excellent. When you do those things, you have a chance to win hockey games."
The Bruins, who got a first-period goal from Nathan Horton and a second-period power-play goal by Zdeno Chara, lost their season-high fourth in a row. They've dropped games on back-to-back nights after leading 2-0, and the loss to the Isles was the first in regulation in a game they led by two goals. They still lead the Northeast Division by four points over Montreal.The Bruins appeared certain to go to the dressing room for the second intermission until Moulson fired a blind passout by John Tavares past Tim Thomas from the lower right circle for a power-play goal.
"Probably the turning point in the game," Capuano said.
The goal energized the Isles, who wasted little time taking control of the game.
Grabner tied it 1:28 into the third period with his 28th of the season, most among NHL rookies. Kyle Okposo tied up three Bruins in front of Thomas before shoveling a pass to Grabner, who whipped a shot just past the outstretched stick of Chara and into the net.
Hillen put the Isles ahead at 5:58 when his slapper from the left point hit defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and caromed past a helpless Thomas.
Horton opened the scoring with 3:31 left in the first period with his 20th goal. Milan Lucic took a pass from behind the net from David Krejci and held the puck until Horton was able to drive to the front of the net. Horton backhanded Lucic's feed past Montoya's stick. Horton has 13 goals and 25 points in 24 games against New York.
Chara made it 2-0 with a power-play slap shot with 6:58 left in the second period. The goal was the Bruins' first with the man advantage since a 4-2 victory in Ottawa on Feb. 18.
"We also hit a couple bars on the power play," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Again, it's fighting it and get the confidence in our power play going again. With a little bit of luck, we could have had three goals. We just have to find our game again. We've been off our game. We seem a little out of sync right now."
Chara, booed every time he touched the puck, was playing his second game since his check to Max Pacioretty that sent the Montreal left wing to the hospital with a severe concussion and non-displaced fracture of the fourth vertebrae Tuesday night.
"Every time I got booed, I got cheered by Boston fans. So I'm kind of used to it," said Chara, who began his NHL career with the Islanders. "It doesn't bother me. It's part of the game. Fans have the right to express opinions toward different players. It's part of the game, part of hockey. Fans have the right to cheer for the home team and against the visiting."
Material from team media was used in this report