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Oilers rally to beat Islanders in OT

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers became the latest team to overcome a two-goal deficit and beat the New York Islanders.

Taylor Hall's goal 2:29 into overtime capped Edmonton's comeback and gave the Oilers a 3-2 victory Thursday night at Rexall Place, handing the Islanders their 11th loss this season in a game they led by two goals.

Hall tipped in Sam Gagner's shot after the Oilers center came in on an odd-man rush, waited out defenseman Brian Strait and fired toward the net.

"It's been happening too much lately," New York forward Michael Grabner said. "I think we played a pretty good game. They had some momentum in the last two or three minutes of the second and we knew they were going to keep coming. They scored the goal on the power play and we had some chances after that we didn't capitalize on and that's what happens."

Ryan Smyth and Philip Larsen scored in the third period for the Oilers (22-34-8), and Ben Scrivens made 32 saves.

Frans Nielsen and rookie Anders Lee scored in the first period for New York (24-32-9). It was the fourth goal in five games for Lee, who was recalled after the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves for the Islanders, who have blown a third-period lead 10 times this season.

"We made mistakes, we talk about this all the time," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "We gave up a PK goal and before the [Travis] Hamonic penalty, our young guys had a tough shift and there's nothing you can do about it.

"You have to teach and you have to learn from it. At some point, they're going to have to realize those little things, the moment you stop moving your feet or get out of position, it's going to cost you."

Nielsen opened the scoring at 9:58 of the first period, snapping a shot over Scrivens' shoulder on a 2-on-1 rush for a shorthanded goal. It was the League-high 11th shorthanded goal allowed by the Oilers this season. Lee increased the lead at 18:21 by parking himself in front of Scrivens and tipping Strait's point shot through the goaltender's pads.

The rookie is taking advantage of his time with the Islanders. Lee scored a pair of goals in his season debut on Feb. 27 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He added a goal and an assist Tuesday in a 3-2 overtime win against the Winnipeg Jets.

"He's playing hard, he's playing well, he's making the most of his opportunity," Capuano said. "As we move forward here, guys know they're battling. They're battling in that room for jobs and he's battling hard.

"He's skating, getting to the net, protecting the puck down low, making high-percentage plays, and chipping pucks - all the little things defensively he's getting much better. There are some areas that he needs to improve in, but he's a young guy. I like the big body and I like the way he uses it."

Smyth got the Oilers on the board with a power-play goal at 8:28 of the third period. It was Smyth's 126th power-play goal, tying him for the franchise lead with Glenn Anderson. Smyth took a pass from Jordan Eberle in front of the net and was able to get enough on his shot to muscle it past Nabokov.

Smyth had been tied for power-play goals with Wayne Gretzky, who was in attendance Thursday, brought in by the club for a franchise function Friday.

"He's my hero," Smyth said of Gretzky. "He's a great ambassador for the game and great for this organization. It was so nice to have him in the building for this.

"It's an honor even to be mentioned with guys like Gretzky and Anderson. I played a lot longer than those guys, but they set the bar high and you want to try and match it. The way it all worked out, it was an emotional ride not knowing if I was staying or going at the trade deadline. To be here and to tie this record is awesome."

Larsen tied the game with 3:07 remaining when he picked up a loose puck at the blue line, raced in and beat Nabokov to the far side. Larsen was playing just his second game since Dec. 17; he's been battling a mysterious virus.

"I felt awesome in the beginning but the last period was a battle for me," Larsen said. "To get that goal, it was a great night for me.

"It's been a tough season for me and I hope this is a good bounce back. I just want to prove myself to the organization that they can rely on me in the future. There are still a lot of games left, so hopefully, I can continue to improve."

Grabner had a chance to win the game with 40 seconds left in regulation, but Scrivens stopped his breakaway. He had another great opportunity in overtime, but had the puck slide off his stick while looking at an open net.

"I thought I got a pretty good shot off and [Scrivens] obviously read it pretty good and it just hit his shoulder," Grabner said of his breakaway effort. "Then I had a good chance in overtime where I thought I had less time than I did, and I probably should have taken a bit more time there."

The Oilers played with five defensemen after Jeff Petry was forced to leave after the first period with a back injury.

"I'd rather we didn't wait until the last four minutes of the second period to get going," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "We could not get going. We have been preaching the way to play and it wasn't until near the end of the second that we understood what we needed to do and we carried it on to the third."

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