After 10 days without a game, the New York Islanders picked up a hard-earned point in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday afternoon at Barclays Center.
Quinn Hughes sealed the OT victory for the Canucks 42 seconds into the extra period, but the Islanders showcased a resilient effort to secure a point. Brock Nelson sent the game into overtime with 25.1 seconds left in the regulation, as the Isles rallied out of a 3-1 hole. Michael Dal Colle and Jordan Eberle also scored for the Islanders while Thomas Greiss made 20 saves in his third-straight start.
"I liked our game, there was a lot to like in our game," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "I would take that game most nights. Vancouver is a very good team offensively, they're deep. There was a lot to like, I thought we were resilient getting a late goal. That's a big point for us."
Vancouver jumped out to an early 1-0 start as J.T. Miller scored his 20th goal of the season 2:09 into the period. Miller buried a loose rebound down low from Christopher Tanev's initial point shot.
The Islanders responded 3:14 later as Dal Colle buried a feed from Josh Bailey. Bailey skated down the ice and made a backdoor play to Dal Colle for his third goal of the season and first since Dec. 14. The Isles rode that momentum for the remainder of the period and 23 seconds later they drew their first power play of the game as Tanev was called for tripping. The wrapped up the period with an 11-5 shot on goal edge over Vancouver.
The Canucks extended their lead to 3-1 with a pair of quick goals in the second period. Hughes registered his first of two goals on the night as he scored his seventh goal of the season. The rookie defenseman's wrist shot trickled through Greiss' pads at 9:48 into the second period to give Vancouver a 2-1 lead.
Vancouver then took its first two-goal lead of the game at nearly five-minutes later as Tim Schaller buried a rebound on the backdoor. Greiss denied Brandon Sutter's initial shot, but the far side was left exposed and Schaller banged in the loose puck.
Vancouver's two-goal lead was short lived the Isles brought the score back to one with 4:15 left in the period. Anthony Beauvillier dished to Eberle near the left faceoff circle and Eberle showcased his shifty stickhandling as he juked and lifted his forehanded shot over Jacob Markstrom.
"That was a huge goal for us," Trotz said. "We're playing really well and all of a sudden they get two, sort of easy goals. Our bench sort of sagged there. It told me a lot about our bench. I thought our bench was really good. We focused on the right things; just get one before the end of the period. At least have a good push here and we did. We had a real good offensive play and it was a real nice finish by [Eberle] there."
Both teams battled in the third period and the Isles didn't let off the gas. They rifled off 17 shots in the third period alone and finished the game with 37 shots over Vancouver's 24. Greiss was pulled with just over a minute left in the period and substituted an extra skater. The maneuver panned out as Brock Nelson tipped in Ryan Pulock's initial shot from distance to send the game into overtime.
"We did fight back and that's why we tied it up at the end," Anders Lee said. "We didn't give up. We stuck to our guns and stuck to our game and we had to play a simple version of ourselves tonight. We always play better when we do that and it was even more important to do that coming out of the break like we talked about."
In the extra frame, Hughes curled around the top of the circle and beat a screened Greiss with a wrister to win the game.
While the Isles would have preferred the two points and the 'W,' they were proud of the effort they put forth against the current leader of the Pacific Division. Vancouver entered the contest with four-straight wins including two of which coming after their break, while the Isles essentially came in cold off the all-star break and bye week.
"We stayed with it," Trotz said. "That's why you stay with the game until the very end...That was a huge point. That might be the point that the end of the day gets us into the playoffs; it really might. You just don't know how it's going to play out until it's all over. That was a huge point. Not too many teams get points coming out of the break playing teams that have played a couple of games since the break. That was a good response by our guys and good character by our group."
The Islanders return to action on Tuesday as they host Dallas on Tuesday at Barclays Center. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.