Brock Nelson salvaged a point for the New York Islanders on Tuesday night, forcing overtime with 17.9 seconds to play in regulation in an eventual 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers at Nassau Coliseum.
Would the Islanders have preferred two? Obviously. But considering they were down 3-1 with 5:37 to play, even getting one feels like an accomplishment.
"That was a hell of a comeback by us to get a point," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "It was a real character point for us."
Video: NYI Recap: Islanders earn a point in OT loss
Brett Howden's deflection put the Rangers up 3-1 at 9:34 of the third period, in what appeared to be shaping up as a frustrating loss for the Islanders. They were down two goals and three players, as Andy Greene and Michael Dal Colle left with upper-body injuries, while Jean-Gabriel Pageau was serving 17 minutes in penalties for fighting Jacob Trouba after a high hit on Dal Colle.
The Islanders seemingly scored to cut the deficit down to one, but the goal was waved off due to goaltender interference and Trotz's challenge couldn't overturn the call. As a result, the Isles found themselves on the penalty kill, but didn't waver, maintaining the belief that they could get the game tied.
"That tells me a lot about my team," Trotz said. "Even when we were down 3-1, all the leaders, all the key guys for us were saying 'we're coming back in this' and 'let's kill this penalty off. Let's go.' There was no woe is me, it was 'we're getting some points tonight.'"
Video: NYR@NYI: Eberle lifts backhander past Georgiev
The Islanders got on the board almost immediately after killing off the bench minor. Mathew Barzal fed Jordan Eberle cutting across the high slot and Eberle backhanded a shot past Alexandar Georgiev at 14:23. The goal was Eberle's 14th of the season and Barzal's assist was the 200th of his NHL career.
With their goalie pulled, the Isles pressed in the final minute, with Toews finding Nelson at the side of the net for a redirection to secure the point.
The party was short-lived as Mika Zibanejad hammered a slap shot past Semyon Varlamov 28 seconds into the extra frame, but the benefits of the single point could come into play in such a tight playoff race.
"We would have liked to have get two, but being in that position in the game to find a way to get it to overtime and get one, we'll take it," Josh Bailey said. "I thought we played a pretty solid 60 minutes of hockey, so we can walk out of here with our heads high and move forward with a positive mindset."
Video: NYR@NYI: Nelson ties the game with 17.9 seconds left
JG PAGEAU MAKES MEMORABLE DEBUT:
JG Pageau was serenaded by Islanders fans at the beginning of Tuesday's game, as they sang his last name to the tune of "Olay!" with "Pag-eau! Pag-eau! Pag-eau! Pag-eau!" ringing throughout the Coliseum.
The cheers intensified as Pageau scored his first goal as an Islander in his first game with the team. The tally came late in the second period, as Ryan Pulock rang a shot off the end glass that kicked out to Pageau in front of the net. It was an easy tap-in for the 27-year-old, who netted his 25th goal of the season.
"It's a warm welcome and I really appreciate it," Pageau said. "The organization, the team, all the players here made me feel comfortable since day one, really made me feel like I was part of the family. Just to add to that, the fans did the same thing tonight. I feel very lucky to be here."
Video: NYR@NYI: Pageau scores in his Islanders debut
The fans were easy, but Pageau also endeared himself to his new team, as he stepped up to fight Trouba at 5:52 of the third period, after Trouba caught Dal Colle with a headshot in open ice.
"He's standing up for teammates right away," Nelson said. "He hasn't been here long, but guys have respected him before, he's going to fit right in."
Pageau - who stands 5'10, 180 lbs. to Trouba's 6'3, 209 lbs. - didn't think the fight was anything extraordinary, insisting he knows his teammates would have done the same for him.
"The way that the guys welcomed me here, if it would have been me who got it, I'm sure someone would have stepped up for me," Pageau said. "I thought it was a high hit, so that's why I did it. I care about the guys here already and I'm lucky to be part of a group like this."
Pageau, who centered a line with Dal Colle and Bailey, finished his debut with a goal, 17 penalty minutes, two shots, three hits, 12:07 TOI and won 10-of-14 face-offs.
"He's impactful and you see how he changes our team in so many ways. You saw how he stepped up," Trotz said. "What a great pickup by Lou. The picks are nothing. A lot of picks never play and we have a solid guy and he fits right into our team. You saw his character, how he plays, his smarts and all that. He's going to be impactful for us. I'm glad he's on our side."
Video: NYR 4 vs NYI 3 (OT): J-G Pageau
BRASSARD RETURNS TO ACTION:
Derick Brassard returned to the lineup after missing the past two games. Brassard took a puck to the face on Wednesday night in Colorado and was sporting a face shield for his return. With Pageau playing third line center, Brassard was back with Anthony Beauvillier and Brock Nelson.
GREENE AND DAL COLLE LEAVE GAME:
Andy Greene left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury after diving for a loose puck and crashing head-first into the boards in the Islanders' zone. Greene did not return.
Dal Colle left the game at 5:52 of the third period after taking a high hit from Trouba in open ice. Dal Colle also did not return and Trotz said both players are considered day to day.
The Islanders travel to St. Louis to take on the Blues on Thursday night. Puck drop is at 8 p.m. eastern.