It was a situation the Isles were all too familiar with, a three-goal lead heading into the third period. It was the very circumstance that halted the Islanders winning streak at 10 games, nine days ago when the Penguins rallied a 4-3 comeback victory in overtime. However, tonight, the Isles were on the reverse side of the scenario; down by three goals to the Philadelphia Flyers with 20 minutes remaining in regulation.
This time around, they rewrote the ending. The Isles snatched a 4-3 shootout win on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center and extended their point streak to 14 games. The Isles comeback win was prompted by third period goals. Anthony Beauvillier scored twice, while Mathew Barzal scored once and sealed the shootout win after Jordan Eberle scored the game-decider. Thomas Greiss made 28 saves and grabbed his seventh-straight win.
"We just stayed with what we were doing," said Head Coach Barry Trotz. "We had tons of scoring chances; they just weren't ending up in the back of the net. We could have been up a couple of goals in the first period… It just wasn't going in for us. What I liked about for us, is that we didn't deviate. We stayed with it."
Video: Islanders rally for shootout win against Flyers
ISLES RALLY BACK FROM 3-0 THIRD PERIOD DEFICIT:
The Flyers set the tone from the opening faceoff with a quick strike 1:38 into the game from Sean Couturier. Ivan Provorov scored a long-range shot bar down on the power play to extend Philadelphia's lead 2-0 heading into the first intermission, after Eberle was whistled for tripping. Oskar Lindholm extended the Flyers lead to 3-0 as he wired in a wrist shot during the second period.
Despite a flat first period to a Flyers team on the second night of a back to back, the Isles had chances throughout the game. Casey Cizikas struck iron twice in the second period with both chances coming on the rush and Anders Lee had a Grade A backhand-chance denied by Brian Elliott on the doorstep. But the Islanders stuck with it, continued to play a hard-checking game to create chances on the fly and were ultimately rewarded for their persistence.
Down 3-0, Trotz told his players if they could score a goal every six and a half minutes, they could force OT. The team took it to heart.
"Just sticking with it," Beauvillier said of the comeback. " We talked about it after, just now, we pretty much scored every six and a half minutes, so it's just a big win for us… [There's] lots of leaders, lots of character in this locker room and once again we showed that. Everyone is just sticking together and we're family. It's been a fun season so far; we want to keep that streak going for sure."
Beauvillier, who has scored four goals in the past two games, scored his first goal of the night 7:46 into the third period on the rush. The 22-year-old winger fled down the flank and towards the crease before sneaking backhander through Elliott's five-hole.
"It's a product of confidence," Trotz said of Beauvillier. "I think he went a little bit dry, but he's maturing as a player. But I think he realizes he can help in so many different ways if he doesn't do it on the scoreboard...He's a great skater, he has confidence with the puck, he's got nice hands, he can score and he's going to the hard areas. Because he's going to the hard areas you can score."
Barzal made it 3-2 as he scored on the Isles second power play of the night with seven minutes left in regulation. The Isles leading goal scorer, with nine goals in 17 games this season, buried a tic-tac-toe feed in the slot from Derick Brassard and Brock Nelson to keep the Isles fight alive.
Beauvillier sent the game into overtime with 2:04 to play, the a result of the Isles strong forecheck. Beauvillier buried a rebound on the doorstep that was generated by the smothering pressure on Philadelphia's blueline from himself, Brassard and Barzal.
In overtime, Eberle and Barzal scored for the Islanders, while Greiss stopped attempts from Couturier and Flyers captain Claude Giroux.
KOIVULA MAKES NHL DEBUT:
Twenty-one-year-old forward Otto Koivula made his NHL debut on Saturday night.
Koivula made his NHL debut after being recalled to the Isles five times since Oct. 30. Koivula centered the Isles third line alongside Ross Johnston and Michael Dal Colle. Leo Komarov was a healthy scratch.
"It's awesome to be honest," Koivula said. "Great feeling and a dream come true. It's been a crazy past two weeks up and down all the time. Finally got the first game and I'm so happy right now...I played my first exhibition game against Philly here and now I played my first NHL regular season game here. It's an unreal feeling right now I can't wait for the next one."
Trotz played it coy during his media availability prior to puck-drop when asked if Koivula would be making his debut against the Flyers. After meetings prior to puck-drop, the coaches opted to put Koivula in the lineup to try and spark some chemistry with the third line.
Video: NYI 4 vs PHI 3 (SO): Otto Koivula
"We went back and forth all day in my head," Trotz said of the decision. "Otto, I just felt this was a team that had some size. I know he's a good player and I figured let's take a look just because. He's a very intelligent player. He's a big body, he's an intelligent player and has good hands. As he grows into his body and gets quicker and stronger, he's going to be a load to handle down the road."
Koivula logged 7:14 time on ice and had two hits. The Finn, who has played in 79 career AHL games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, noticed a difference in the pace and intensity of the NHL.
"It's different than AHL," Koivula said. "The game is so different. You have more space and more time, but at the same time, there are great players with you and against you. It's different, but I like it."
GREISS EARNS SEVENTH-STRAIGHT WIN:
Greiss earned his eighth win of the season and seventh-straight victory. Greiss made 28 saves on 31 shots and was key for the Isles in the shootout as he denied Couturier and Giroux. After allowing a goal on the first shot of the game, Greiss made timely saves for the Isles and was crucial in denying all 12 Flyers shots in the third period.
Greiss leads NHL netminders with his .938 save percentage and is second in the league for goals against average at 1.98.
"I feel good about my game," Greiss said. "Just try and battle every night. Guys played great tonight, especially in the second and third period. Found a way to win the game."
The Islanders wrap up a two-game road trip on Tuesday in Pittsburgh. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.