Andrew Ladd's OT winner powered the Islanders to a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night at Rogers Arena.
Ladd tapped in a backdoor feed from Calvin de Haan, as the Islanders salvaged a crucial extra point after allowing the Canucks to tie the game with 19.3 seconds to play in the third period.
The win brought the Islanders to 5-2-1 on their current nine-game trip and kept them one point ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card seed in the Eastern Conference.
"We found a way to win," Ladd, a Maple Ridge, BC native, said. "Some nights you're not going to have it, but you have to find a way."
Video: NYI@VAN: Ladd taps in de Haan's setup for OT win
Before Ladd's late heroics, Josh Bailey and Thomas Greiss were carrying the play for the Islanders. Bailey had a season-high three assists - a hand in the first three Islanders goals - while Greiss (36 saves) was solid throughout.
Video: NYI@VAN: Greiss shuts the pads on Megna's breakaway
Greiss' pokecheck and pad save on Jayson Megna breakaway highlighted a 14-save first period as the Isles goalie kept his team afloat. The Islanders only mustered four shots in the opening 20 minutes, but made the most of their opportunities. John Tavares put the Islanders up 1-0, one-timing a cross-ice pass from Bailey, who patiently curled off the rush for a passing lane to open up.
"He's really seeing the ice right now," Coach Doug Weight said of Bailey. "The puck is kind of following him… He's been a cornerstone and he's been a strong, strong player this year."
Video: NYI@VAN: Tavares buries one-timer to open scoring
While the Islanders survived a sluggish start in the first period, the same couldn't be said about the start of the second. The Canucks took a 2-1 lead by the 3:31 mark, with Reid Boucher and Sven Baertschi scoring goals 1:56 apart. Boucher potted a feed from Bo Horvat, while Baertschi took an Islanders turnover and beat Greiss with a quick deke in tight.
Video: NYI@VAN: Beauvillier races in, converts on breakaway
Again, the Islanders again made the most of their opportunities. Anthony Beauvillier made no mistake on a mid-period breakaway, pulling a nifty backhand deke on Ryan Miller at 9:44 for his seventh of the season. Brock Nelson put the Islanders ahead 3-2 in the final minute of the second period, deflecting a Nick Leddy shot past Miller with 24 seconds to play.
Video: NYI@VAN: Nelson tips Leddy's slapper past Miller
At that point, the Islanders were being outshot 30-14.
"The third was our best period," Ladd said. "We came in after the second and said 'hey we have a 3-2 lead and we haven't played our best hockey yet.' We wanted to come out and grind them down in the third and make them work for it."
Video: NYI@VAN: Greiss lays out to rob H. Sedin in front
The Islanders outshot the Canucks 13-7 in the third period, but Troy Stecher tied the score with 19.3 seconds to play in the period, holding the line on an Isles clearing attempt to start a sequence that led to his seeing-eye goal.
"The third was a much better period for us, but 6-on-5 we have to find a way to keep the puck out of our net," Tavares said. "It was unfortunate to give up one late, but good perseverance overcoming the way we played today and getting a big goal in OT."
The win guarantees the Islanders at least 11 points on their nine-game road trip, which wraps up on Saturday night in St. Louis. Puck drop is at 8 p.m. eastern time.