Devon Toews scored the overtime winner on Monday afternoon, as the New York Islanders completed a stunning third period comeback over the St. Louis Blues, winning 3-2 at NYCB Live.
Down 2-0, Brock Nelson kickstarted the comeback with 5:31 to play in the third, while Mathew Barzal scored the game-tying goal with 26.5 seconds to play and set up Toews' game winner. The win was the Islanders second straight and improved their record to 3-3-0 on the season.
NEVER SAY DIE-LANDERS:
Things looked bleak with six minutes to play in the third period of Monday's Islanders-Blues game.
The Isles were down 2-0 to the reigning Stanley Cup champs and taking a defensive-zone face-off with time running out. They could have coasted out the rest of the game and set their sights on Thursday's game vs the Winnipeg Jets, but instead, they dug deep, channeling the never-say-die mentality that characterized the 2018-19 season.
"Sometimes with our style, we hold teams off, hold teams off and then get a bounce and capitalize on our opportunities," Barzal said. "That's what we did tonight. I don't know if we're deserving of two points, but that's the way you stay in a game, battle right to the end."
To their credit, the Isles had been peppering the Blues for much of the third period, after being held to 13 shots through 40 minutes. Despite liking how their game was trending in the third, they found themselves down 2-0 on Vladimir Tarasenko's power-play goal at 5:23. Barzal, who was grinning from ear-to-ear in his postgame interview, said the Isles just needed something to get them in a better mood, or light a spark. Enter Nelson, who threw a Michael Dal Colle feed at the net and found a way to beat Jordan Binnington to get the Isles on the board.
Video: STL@NYI: Nelson goes short side in 3rd
Nelson's goal - his third of the season and 26th in the month of October - gave the Islanders new life and energized the Coliseum. The Islanders continued to pressure the Blues and got a second break in the last 30 seconds. After a clutch keep-in at the blue line by Johnny Boychuk, Barzal's shot into the slot caromed off Ryan O'Reilly's stick and past Binnington.
"Sometimes as Barry would say, the hockey gods were in our favor tonight," Barzal said. "I got a lucky bounce on my goal. That's just crazy luck there and that's how it goes sometimes. You get a bounce here or there and it sparks the group. The last five minutes there, we had great energy there. It was a roller coaster of a game."
Barzal was at his best in overtime. The Isles forward took the puck at the St. Louis blueline, circled around the net and fed Toews in the slot for the game-winning goal. Toews made no mistake, banging a one-timer top corner to complete the comeback.
"We didn't give up, we came out in the third and just stayed with it," Trotz said. "That was a really good test for us."
Video: STL@NYI: Barzal ties game in final minute of 3rd
Trotz was asked what Monday's win - which carried similarities to the Isles 4-3 comeback win in St. Louis last January - can do for the Isles as a group. The coach, who said he liked the Isles effort in Carolina, said it only validates the message and how the Isles need to play as a group.
"I said to the guys in Carolina … that I'll take the effort and battle," Trotz said. "We'll build our game off that. That's the strength of our game. We did that the last couple of games and we're getting rewarded. We're not just putting our toe in the water, we're jumping all in."
WAHLSTROM IMPRESSES IN NHL DEBUT:
Oliver Wahlstrom made his NHL debut on Monday afternoon after being recalled from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the morning. He logged 15:13 TOI, took a pair of shots and recorded a hit on the scoresheet.
The 19-year-old didn't play shy in his first NHL game, throwing a pair of solid hits on Tyler Bozak and Justin Faulk in his first two shifts. Wahlstrom, a gifted goal scorer at the US National Team Development Program, had a couple of open looks, getting a good shot off from the slot in the second period.
"I was trying to play my game and play simple I know my shot's there and just tried to play simple," Wahlstrom said. "I know I can create chances. For me, at this level early on I think you just have to play simple, have fun and just enjoy the moment."
Wahlstrom started the game alongside Josh Bailey and Derick Brassard, but had earned Trotz's trust late in the third, taking an offensive-zone draw alongside Barzal and Anders Lee with 2:07 to play and Isles down a goal.
"For his first NHL game, I didn't think he looked out of place at all," Trotz said. "He was physical. His speed wasn't an issue. He moved his feet, he stayed involved, he didn't watch the game. He was strong on pucks and got some opportunities."
Video: NYI 3 vs STL 2 OT: Mathew Barzal
A MOMENT OF APPRECIATION FOR JOHNNY BOYCHUK:
Johnny Boychuk embodied the fight in the New York Islanders on Monday afternoon. The 35-year-old defenseman hobbled around the Isles' zone after taking a Justin Faulk clapper on the inside of his foot, continuing to defend despite not having a stick. Clearly in pain, Boychuk kept pushing bodies in front of the net and eventually kicked the puck down the ice to get off for a change.
It was the type of all-in play Trotz loves about the throwback style defenseman.
"You see the intangibles," Trotz said. "Sometimes it doesn't look pretty, but at the end of the day how many people could you imagine battle as hard? How many people are committed at blocking shots? How many people give you every ounce of what they have to get something done? It doesn't always look pretty, but it gets something done."
Boychuk later came up with a game-saving play, blocking Colton Parayko's clearing attempt at the blue line, before feeding the puck to Barzal for the game-tying goal.
"That's where analytics doesn't give him as much credit," Trotz said. "You can't really put a number to it. That's something that he brings. That's why he's been in the league for so long. That's why he's got such great character."
EBERLE, CIZIKAS MISS GAME:
Jordan Eberle and Casey Cizikas both missed Monday's game and are day to day, according to Trotz.
Eberle sat out with an undisclosed injury, the result of an awkward Mike Matheson hit in the final minutes of the third period on Saturday night. With Eberle out, Tom Kuhnhackl started the game alongside Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal.
Cizikas missed his third straight game with a lower-body injury, which he suffered in the Isles final preseason game. He was placed on IR - retroactive to Oct. 8 - allowing for Wahlstrom to be recalled. Cizikas is eligible to be activated off IR and return to the lineup for Thursday's game in Winnipeg.
The Islanders head to Winnipeg on Thursday night to wrap up their season series with the Jets. Puck drop is at 8 p.m.