The New York Islanders got their all-important first win of the season on Sunday night, downing the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 in overtime in their home opener at Barclays Center.
It was only the third game of the season, but after a pair of losses in the opening two games, the Islanders could start to feel some pressure. Playing in front of their fans for the first time this season, Josh Bailey alleviated that pressure with his OT winner, dangling around Andrew Cogliano, before burying on Ducks' goalie John Gibson.
"The first win is always big," said Islanders' captain John Tavares. "It eases that pressure off a bit, especially the way the first two games went. We want to build off this. We started off 0-2, so we want to even it out here on Tuesday."
Video: ANA@NYI: Bailey's great goal wins the game in OT
The Islanders looked like a hungry team right from the get-go on Sunday afternoon, showing no effects of playing the night before in Washington. They outshot the Ducks 16-3 in the first period, holding Anaheim - who also played the night before in Pittsburgh - without a shot on goal for nearly 15 minutes.
Their early effort was rewarded, as Brock Nelson opened the scoring at 7:47 of the first period, corralling a Jason Chimera pass in the slot, spinning off of Cam Fowler and sliding the puck past John Gibson.
"We wanted to come out with a good effort," Bailey said. "We definitely came out with a bang in the first period. It's tough to maintain that for 60 minutes in this league. We knew they were going to respond and they did, but ultimately we found a way to get it done."
Video: ANA@NYI: Nelson's spinning shot goes in the net
The Ducks responded win the second period, outshooting the Islanders 13-5, but Jaroslav Halak (24 saves) held the fort, coming up big on three Ducks power plays, including a glove save on a Jacob Larsson one-timer and another on Jakob Silfverberg.
Despite the lopsided shot attempts, the Islanders had the best chance of the period. Nelson dished over to Anders Lee on a two-on-one rush, with Lee's chance hitting the inside of the post and teasing fans as it rolled along the goal line and out the other side.
"In the second period we got into some penalty trouble," head coach Jack Capuano said. "We battled through it and found a way."
Video: ANA@NYI: Tavares slides the puck past Gibson
Tavares put the Islanders ahead 2-0 with his first goal of the season. Tavares initially set up Cal Clutterbuck, but when Clutterbuck's stick shattered, he made a heads-up move, kicking the puck back to Tavares who beat Gibson at 7:59 of the third period.
The Ducks responded less than a minute later, with Cam Fowler sneaking a shot through traffic and Halak at 8:31. That set up a tense finish, as Ryan Getzlaf tied the score with a minute to play, beating Halak with a one-timer.
"We would have liked to have closed it out before overtime, but we'll take it," Bailey said.
The win continued the Islanders strong play at Barclays Center and especially against Western Conference teams. Last season the Islanders went 12-0-2 against Western teams in Brooklyn and start this season off 1-0-0.
The Islanders play nine of their next 10 games at home.
CIZIKAS LEAVES GAME:
Casey Cizikas left Sunday's game in the third period and did not return. Jack Capuano did not offer any updates in his postgame media conference.
DANIEL BRYAN PUMPS UP THE CROWD:
Video: ANA@NYI: Daniel Bryan discusses the YES! chant
The Islanders return to action on Tuesday night when they host the San Jose Sharks. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.