The Islanders got late power play goals 58 seconds apart from P.A. Parenteau and Blake Comeau and an empty net goal by Frans Nielsen to defeat the New York Rangers 6-4 during a holiday matinee at the Nassau Coliseum.
Comeau led the Isles attack with two goals and an assist and finished the game with a plus-three rating. Matt Moulson, Josh Bailey and Frans Nielsen each had a goal and an assist for the Isles while defenseman Mike Mottau added two assists.
It marked the second straight third period comeback for the Isles, who overcame a 4-3 Rangers lead. In their season opener against Dallas, the Isles forced a shootout after overcoming a two-goal deficit in the third period.
The Islanders were pleased with their ability to come back late in games.
“The guys were ready for this game,” forward PA Parenteau said. “I think they showed a lot of character going into the third period. That’s the sign of a team that’s going to get wins. If we can come back like that, and like we did against Dallas, it’s big.”
The Islanders were also happy with the performance of their power play, which provided both the tying and winning goals late in the game.
“One of our main issues last year was the power play and its lack of success,” Coach Scott Gordon said. “Here we have two games where we’ve scored four power play goals in the third period. That’s huge for us because we obviously don’t have a Gaborik on our team that is a scoring threat, but if we can make up the difference on our power play, that’s going to help us.”
The Rangers had the first chance to take the lead when Marian Gaborik was awarded a penalty shot after Doug Weight pulled him down during an Islander power play with 8:52 left in the first period. Gaborik came straight down the middle and tried to beat Isles’ starter Rick DiPietro five-hole, but DP quickly closed his pads and denied the Rangers sniper.
The Isles took a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes on goals by Comeau and Josh Bailey, sandwiched between a power play goal by the Rangers Brandon Dubinsky. Bailey was tripped by Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto but poked the puck home as he was falling to the ice from about five feet out.
Del Zotto was very involved in the first four goals of the game. He gave the puck away to Comeau on the Isles’ first goal, assisted on the Dubinsky goal, tripped Bailey on the next Islander tally and scored the Rangers second goal in the second period.
The Rangers thoroughly outplayed the Islanders in the second period and took the lead on a goal by defenseman Dan Girardi on a wrist shot from the right point. Moulson managed to even the score with 21 seconds left in the period to even the game at 3-3 after 40 minutes.
The Rangers regained the lead on a goal by Artem Anisimov with 7:14 remaining in the third period. Anisimov pounced on a rebound and let a shot go from between the circles that found its way past DiPietro.
That’s when penalties got the Rangers in trouble. First Ryan Callahan was called for tripping with 5:45 left on the clock. Then, 46 seconds later, Marc Staal was called for high sticking.
Rangers Coach John Tortorella was upset with the penalty calls that gave the Isles the late 5-on-3 advantage.
“I think it’s just an awful call to start the 5-on-3,” he told reporters after the game. “It’s assuming that you trip a guy and he didn’t trip [him]. That’s what started the wall falling for us.”
The Islanders had a 1:14 with a two-man advantage and they made it count with Parenteau and Comeau providing the tying and winning goals before Nielsen iced the win with 19 seconds left with the empty netter.
The Islanders were excited with the win, which came without top center John Tavares, who missed the game due to a mild concussion suffered Saturday against the Stars.
“I think for our team, it’s good to start out with three points out of four at home,” Gordon said. “We’ve got 12 of our next 14 games on the road and the face that we were able to come away with these points is huge because it’s certainly not going to be easy on the road.”
The Islanders return to action Wednesday night when they travel to Washington to face the Capitals.
The Isles scratches were Tavares, Jack Hillen and Bruno Gervais. Tavares has already been ruled out of Wednesday’s game against the Caps but it is not believed his concussion is serious.
Michael Grabner made his Isles’ debut, replacing Tavares in the lineup. Grabner was credited with one shot on goal in 13:12 of ice time.
Isles’ defenseman James Wisniewski made an obscene gesture at Rangers forward Sean Avery after a whistle stopped play in front of the Islander goal. It remains to be seen what if any action the league will take against Wisniewski. Isles’ Coach Scott Gordon refused to comment on the incident after the game.
The Islanders wore their road white jerseys for the game, allowing the Rangers to wear their home blue sweaters.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was in attendance and spoke to the media during the second intermission. Bettman again reiterated the Islanders need for a new arena if they are to continue to play on Long Island after their lease expires in 2015.