The New York Islanders were outplayed for most of their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but they hung tough and found a way to pick up a 3-2 overtime win on the road.
Matt Moulson was credited with the game winning goal which was not awarded until after a very lengthy video review. The puck bounced behind Lightning goalie Dan Ellis at shoulder height. Ellis reached behind him and deflected the puck away from the goal and play continued. At the first break in the action, replay determined that the puck had actually crossed the goal line before Ellis deflected it away.
“You can’t get too excited, you’ve got to wait for the official call,” Isles’ defenseman Mark Eaton explained. “But when it comes, obviously, we were happy.”
One key to the victory was the Isles determination and overall performance on defense. They blocked 17 shots during the game, paced by Eaton with four. The Lightning blocked only five as a team.
Rick DiPietro made 28 saves to earn the win for the Isles. He played his strongest game in net so far this season, looking shaky only when he tried to over handle the puck.
Isles Coach Scott Gordon was pleased with his team’s effort in this road victory. “We have to have the same mentality that we have at home and to this point right now. If we haven’t won, we’ve been in every game and we’ve been strong in the third period. It’s good to see our guys responding.”
The Isles broke out on top early when a touch pass by Doug Weight set up a goal by Michael Grabner just 2:15 into the game.
That lead held up until former Islander Sean Bergenheim scored on a breakaway with just 1:55 left in the opening period.
The teams traded goals again in the second period. Martin St. Louis gave the Lightning their only lead of the game at the 4:44 mark before P.A. Parenteau evened things up for the Islanders with a power play goal exactly 10:00 into the middle stanza.
Tampa Bay carried play for most of the third period, outshooting the Islanders 12-4, but couldn’t take the lead. When Pavel Kubina took a penalty in the closing seconds of the period, it set up an Isles’ power play as overtime got underway. The winning goal came just four seconds after Kubina’s penalty had expired.
Special teams were an important factor in this contest. The Isles scored with the man advantage, but kept Tampa Bay’s vaunted power play off the board in four attempts including a full, two minute stretch of 5-on-3 advantage in the second period.
The win improved the Isles record to 4-1-2 which places them first overall in the Eastern Conference. They continue their road trip Saturday night when they face the Florida Panthers.
Trent Hunter returned to the Isles lineup after missing the previous two games with a foot injury. He replaced Josh Bailey who remains day-to-day with a hip injury. Bailey hopes to play Saturday night against the Panthers.
The Isles lost defenseman Andrew MacDonald to a hand injury late in the game. MacDonald did not return and his status for Saturday’s game is uncertain.