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game recap

Nylander ties game late, Maple Leafs win in shootout

Toronto ends losing streak with win against Islanders

by Mike Brophy / Correspondent

Soshnikov's decisive SO goal

NYI@TOR: Soshnikov seals win for Maple Leafs in SO

3/9/16: Nikita Soshnikov scores the only goal in the shootout to give the Maple Leafs a win over the Islanders

  • 00:31 •

TORONTO -- Nikita Soshnikov scored in the shootout to give the Toronto Maple Leafs a 4-3, come-from-behind win against the New York Islanders at Air Canada Centre on Wednesday.

With Toronto on a power play, William Nylander scored his second NHL goal to make it 3-3 with 1:13 remaining in the third period and goalie Garret Sparks pulled for an extra attacker.

Thomas Greiss made 33 saves for the Islanders in his first game since becoming the starter with Jaroslav Halak out for at least the next six weeks with a lower-body injury he sustained against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.

"Jaro is a big part of our team and it is bad for him to have an injury at this time of the year," Greiss said. "Guys have to step up now and pull together as a team. I am not thinking about my situation now; I am thinking about the team making the playoffs. That is the most important thing."

Video: NYI@TOR: Nylander ties it up late on the power play

The Maple Leafs (22-33-11) ended a six-game losing streak.

"I think the win is important," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "We did lots of good things. We still make some big mistakes. We do lots of things that make you wonder, but we worked real hard and I thought we carried lots of chances so it was good to get the win."

The Islanders (37-20-8) had won four in a row and seven of eight.

Greiss entered the game against Toronto with the NHL's best save percentage (.930) and had the sixth-best goals-against average (2.20). The 29-year-old veteran has never been a No. 1 goalie in the NHL; he has played in 119 NHL games (96 starts). His 30 games to date are the most he has played in one NHL season.

Video: NYI@TOR: Strome sneaks puck through five-hole

"It's the same hockey game," Greiss said. "You can't think any differently. You just play the game and don't worry about your personal situation. You can't overthink things and blow it up. It's still hockey. You play the game and everything will fall in place."

Islanders coach Jack Capuano said Greiss has an opportunity to prove himself with Halak sidelined through the end of the regular season.

"I thought he played pretty well," Capuano said. "He made some big saves for us. I was pleased with his game. I think when you are in this situation you try to embrace the challenge. You work hard, take it and run with it and see where the chips fall."

John Tavares gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead 8:08 into the first period when he broke away from his blue line. Tavares tried to shoot between Sparks' legs but was stopped. Tavares got the rebound and put it past Sparks for his 25th goal of the season, the fifth time in seven NHL seasons he has scored at least that many.

Video: NYI@TOR: Tavares breaks away, scores on own rebound

The Maple Leafs tied it 1-1 at 11:27. Less than 30 seconds after Frans Nielsen's shot went off Sparks' facemask, Toronto defenseman Martin Marincin's slap shot from the left point was stopped by Greiss, but Zach Hyman tapped in the rebound for his second goal in his fifth NHL game.

The Maple Leafs took a 2-1 lead at 10:45 of the second period when Morgan Rielly scored with New York's Anders Lee off for slashing. Toronto center Nazem Kadri carried the puck into the Islanders zone and waited for Rielly to arrive. After receiving a drop pass, Rielly snapped a shot high from the top of the slot for his seventh.

The Islanders tied it 2-2 at 12:54 when defenseman Nick Leddy carried the puck the length of the ice and beat Sparks with a quick wrist shot to the far side for his fifth goal.

Video: NYI@TOR: Rielly puts Maple Leafs ahead with PPG

Ryan Strome put the Islanders ahead 3-2 at 14:41 of the third period when he broke in alone and got a shot off despite being harassed from behind by Toronto defenseman Jake Gardiner. Strome's shot was stopped by Sparks, but the puck had enough momentum and went across the goal line for his eighth.

Soshnikov was the only player to score in the shootout, in the top of the fourth round.

"Obviously [Soshnikov] is not intimidated by anything," Babcock said. "He plays against good players. He plays with speed. He plays without the puck. It looks like he can score. I thought this was Nylander's best game by a mile. It was his most competitive game. Hyman and [Soshnikov] are here to stay. They are real players. They're just too good and too hard and too fast with too much work ethic. Those guys will play."

Video: Soshnikov's decisive shot wins it in the shootout

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