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Flames overcome two-goal deficit to beat Islanders

by Aaron Vickers /

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames made Joe Nieuwendyk Night one to remember, and in doing so continued the New York Islanders' inability to handle two-goal leads.

Joe Colborne's second goal of the game with 4:19 remaining in regulation Friday night capped Calgary's comeback and gave the Flames a 4-3 win at Scotiabank Saddledome, handing the Islanders their 12th loss of the season in a game they've led by two goals.

"I feel like we've done that a few times this year," Colborne said. "There's just no quit in this team. We weren't happy with the way we played, especially in the second period, we got outworked and that's not what we stand for. Give the coaches credit - they came in and kind of, uh, motivated us a bit, you could say."

The Islanders had blown a two-goal lead in the third period 24 hours prior in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers. New York has allowed two-goal leads to get away 14 times this season, losing 12 of those games.

"I'm not sure what it is to be honest," forward Colin McDonald said. "It's happened a lot this year. I'm not sure what the reasoning is. It could be (mental) but we have to find a way to not let this stuff happen. It doesn't matter who's in our lineup. There's no excuse for that at this level.

"It seems like we've been talking about it all year. We just have to find a way to go out and get the job done. It's really as simple as that."

Prior to the game, the Flames honored Nieuwendyk by inducting him in a pregame "Forever a Flame" ceremony, with his banner joining Al MacInnis -- the first to receive the distinction -- and the retired numbers of Lanny McDonald (No. 9) and Mike Vernon (No. 30).

"You forget how good he was," Colborne said. "You hear the points and stuff and you almost forget until they kind of walk you through his career, and that was really cool for me. I might have felt it a little more than some of the other guys because he was one of my favorites growing up, but that was very cool and I'm honored to have been a part of it.

"I had chills the entire ceremony. I'm honored to have been here and been a part of it."

New York led 3-1 midway through the third period before the Flames rallied for three goals in a 4:12 span.

Colborne took Mark Giordano's shot off the end boards and beat Anders Nilsson at 11:29 for his sixth goal of the season to pull the Flames within one.

Sean Monahan tied it at 14:22. From below the goal line, Monahan worked a give-and-go with TJ Galiardi before driving out from behind the net and wrapping the puck between Nilsson's legs to tie the game.

Colborne's second of the night, a redirection of Giordano's point shot, handed the Islanders their seventh regulation loss in a game they led by two goals. They've also lost five such games in overtime or a shootout.

"It was a really cool night," Colborne said. "I'm glad the goals actually meant something and it's just nice we were able to help Orts out a little bit. He played his heart out. There were a bunch of guys who stepped up and made big plays."

After Nieuwendyk's lengthy ceremony kicked off the night, Markus Granlund started the scoring.

With Monahan in the penalty box for tripping, goaltender Joni Ortio's clearing attempt landed on the stick of fellow rookie Granlund, who charged into the Islanders' zone but had his shot blocked. The 20-year-old corralled the rebound and fed Paul Byron, took a return pass and beat Nilsson to put Calgary up 1-0 just 2:01 into the game.

The assist was Ortio's first career point and came two days after he earned his first NHL victory.

Josh Bailey tried to even the game on the same power play, beating Ortio but ringing his shot off the crossbar.

McDonald fared better. From behind the net, Ryan Strome spotted McDonald at the bottom of the right circle, and he one-timed the pass over Ortio's shoulder from the sharp angle to tie the game at 15:26.

Second-period goals by Kyle Okposo and Brock Nelson gave the Islanders a 3-1 lead through 40 minutes.

After an errant pass by a pinching Giordano, Michael Grabner broke down the ice on a 2-on-1 and dished a pass to Okposo, who buried his team-leading 26th of the season over Ortio at 6:31.

Nelson capitalized on Calgary's second major turnover of the second. Near the end of a lengthy shift, Ben Hanowski's cross-ice pass was picked off by Matt Donovan. He quickly regained the Flames zone before dropping a pass to Bailey, who fed Nelson for his 11th of the season at 12:08 to give the Islanders a two-goal lead.

New York had a chance to take a three-goal lead early in the third period when back-to-back penalties gave the Islanders a 5-on-3 power play for 65 seconds. But Okposo's rocket from the slot hit the crossbar and stayed out, and the Flames killed off the rest of the power play to keep the deficit at two goals.

"You saw how we were moving our legs and outskating them, out-chancing them, out-everything-ing them," Okposo said. "We had a 5-on-3 we've got to bury on. We have some chances there. We've got to put the puck in the net. It's mental at this point. We give up one and we just sit back and we let them back in the game. We have to say enough's enough in here."

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