Tuesday’s 2-1 shootout win took a little longer than the Islanders would have liked, but for the second straight game, the Islanders found a way to beat the Carolina Hurricanes late.
Anders Lee forced overtime with a power-play goal at 12:08 of the third period, Kyle Okposo scored the game-decider in the first round of a shootout and Thomas Greiss made 26 saves, plus three more after 65 minutes to secure the win.
“It had some similarities to Saturday’s game,” John Tavares said. “We had to dig deep to tie it up and go to extra time. Obviously it wasn’t really pretty, but we’re finding ways to win.”
On a night that Pittsburgh rallied for a shootout win and the Detroit Red Wings suffered a regulation loss, the Islanders had to take advantage of playing a non-playoff-bound team.
“This was a huge two points and we needed to win,” Okposo said. “These are the games that you have to win and give us a little bit of breathing room. Other teams are going to keep winning because they seem to do every night. We just have to keep putting points in the bank every night.”
The game was largely void of quality chances in the opening 40 minutes, as the Islanders and Hurricanes checked each other tight and had a pair of hot goalies behind them. Derek Ryan broke the ice with a late second period goal, snapping a wrist shot short side on Greiss at 18:31 of the second period.
But then the game changed in the third, as the Islanders took control right from puckdrop. They seemingly had more chances in the opening five minutes than they’d had all game: Nick Leddy rushing the puck up the ice on his own, Josh Bailey putting a backdoor feed off the outside of the post were two that stood out.
And while Cam Ward – who is 19-5-3 lifetime vs. the Islanders – continued to be a thorn in their side, the Islanders continued to press, eventually breaking through on Lee’s power-play deflection at 12:08.
“We knew it was coming and that it was going to be greasy,” Jack Capuano said. “Against that goaltender you’re going to have to get to the paint and it’s going to have to be one of those goals and it was; a shot and a deflection.”
Greiss, who ended a personal four-game losing streak, was solid in the third period and especially good in overtime. He played tight and read plays well, pokechecking Elias Lindholm in the extra frame, stopping Jeff Skinner on a spin-o-rama backhand and held the fort in the shootout. He even took a hit to make a play, as the Islanders power-play goal came on a goalie interference call.
“It’s always good to get the win,” Greiss said. “It’s important points for the whole team and big for me and nice to get win again.”
Tuesday’s win was the Islanders third in four games and maintained their position as the first Wild Card in the Eastern Conference. They take the ice again on Thursday night when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.
Nielsen and Okposo Postgame