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Notebook: Lee's OT Winner Powers Isles Past Devils

Anders Lee scores OT winner as Isles down Devils 4-3 in Jersey

by Sasha Kandrach KandrachSasha / NewYorkIslanders.com

The Islanders came into New Jersey looking for revenge after the Devils left them feeling sour after a 2-1 loss five days ago and in turn, the Isles left the Prudential Center on Tuesday evening with a 4-3 overtime win and two important points. More importantly, the Isles - who were on the second leg of a back-to-back - left with confidence in playing back to their identity. 

"It was an important back to back for us," said Anders Lee, who scored the OT winner at 4:09 of the extra frame. "We have a few days between games now. We just needed to take care of business tonight. It's a tough building to come in and play in, especially on a back to back. All around great effort, [Thomas Greiss] stood tall when we needed him, and we just found a way tonight."

Lee scored the game winner with 51 seconds remaining in overtime, which also doubled as his second goal in as many games. The captained capped a night of balanced scoring, as the Isles re-established their identity as a four-line team. Jordan Eberle, Tom Kuhnhackl and Casey Cizikas also struck twine, as three different lines hit the scoresheet, while Thomas Greiss made 32 saves in his first game since Dec. 27. 

Video: NYI@NJD: Lee wins it in overtime for Islanders

"It was a real hard game and today, [New Jersey is] playing really well," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "They are hard to play; they are playing with a lot of structure and a lot of joy in their game. They were on pucks, and I thought we hung in there. I thought we were a little slow out of the gates. They had us backed in a bit and I thought we started going in the second period. We had a real good second period, lots of chances, but didn't convert."

Cizikas opened up scoring at 3:38 into the first period as the center buried a rebound down low off an initial wrist shot from linemate Matt Martin. P.K. Subban put the Devils on the board at 8:37 into the first period to tie the score 1-1, as he blasted a Miles Wood one-timer over the left shoulder of Greiss. 

Eberle restored the Isles lead 2-1 midway through the first period with his fourth goal of the season and first since Dec. 14. Eberle's goal came off of the intended clear from New Jersey's Damon Severson. 

Video: NYI@NJD: Cizikas gives Islanders early lead

The second period fell stagnant, but the Isles dominated and held an 18-12 shot advantage. Seemingly the Devils best chance came with just over a minute-and-a-half remaining in the period and Nico Hischier converted on it to make it 2-2. The center 21-year-old weaved his way through the Isles zone before he shook off Mathew Barzal and snuck a backhander over Greiss. 

Kyle Palmieri temporarily put the Devils ahead 3-2, as he scored on the sole power play of the night between either team. The power-play goal snapped the Isles' streak of 14 straight penalty kills. 

"They get it tied up and go ahead and you think you can see what your resiliency level is and we stayed resilient and got it tied up," Trotz said. 

The Isles showed composure despite being down for the first time in the game. Their patience and trust in the process was rewarded and seconds later, the Isles tied the score as Tom Kuhnhackl rifled a shot from distance to send the game into overtime with both teams tied 3-3. 

Video: NYI@NJD: Kuhnhackl's shot goes in off defender

"I'm proud of the resiliency," Trotz said. "It's something that I expect from our guys. It's not something that, 'Hey, you were really resilient this game.' It's something that I want us to be resilient night-in and night-out. I think we have been...We stayed with it and we got rewarded."

The overtime period featured a plethora of chances from both sides, including a three-on-one opportunity for New Jersey, but it wasn't until last minute that the Isles would stick the nail in the coffin. 

The Islanders capitalized off of a poor New Jersey line change in which Devon Toews setup in the high slot Lee for his game-winner. 

Video: Lee's OT goal lifts Islanders past Devils


SECONDARY SCORING HELPS OFFENSE BREAK THROUGH:

After scoring two goals over their last three games - including two frustrating losses to New Jersey and Toronto respectively - the Isles broke out for four goals on Tuesday night. As a group, the team knew if they stuck with the process the goals would come as emphasized by coach Trotz.

"We all just needed a bounce and we got a couple tonight," Lee said of getting contributions up and down the lineup. "Casey leading us off - that was great - it kind of just takes the pressure off a little bit and now we can go out and play and play with a lead and continue with the game, rather than worrying about putting one on the board."

Cizikas potted his ninth goal of the season and nearly scored his second of the game in the waning seconds of the second period as he tried to beat Blackwood with a wraparound, but the attempt was shielded by Blackwood's outstretched pad. Kuhnhackl scored his third goal of the season and third in the past six games. 

Video: NYI@NJD: Eberle buries quick shot off turnover 

After going six games without a point and 10 games without a goal, Eberle found the back of the net for the fourth time this season. 

"You feel the pressure," Trotz said of Eberle. "He's a proud guy and he really wants to score and help out. What I liked about him is he's getting to those hard areas and between the dots and putting pucks in plays, making plays, shooting, getting there and getting a little greasy. He did a really good job and he'll get rewarded for that. 


Video: NYI 4 vs NJD 3 (OT): Thomas Griess

GREISS GETS IMPORTANT WIN:

Thomas Greiss made his first start since Dec. 27 on Tuesday night, and picked up his first win since Dec. 12, as he made 32 saves against the Devils. 

Greiss was good when the Islanders needed him to be, notably stopping a three-on-one rush in OT. Trotz said it was an important result for his goaltender, who snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 12-7-0.

"For Greisser, he's played a lot of good games and a few games that haven't gone his way," Trotz said. "That's what happens. It happens for forwards, happens for d-men and happens for goalies. I think it's big for him. He gave us a chance to win at the end. He made a couple of big saves when we left him all around and punted the puck up and we were able to get possession and a lot of good things. It was good for his psyche for sure."


NEXT GAME: 

The Islanders take on the Boston Bruins at Barclays Center on Saturday at 7 p.m.

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