Mark Streit delivered for the Islanders when it counted most. Streit beat four defenders on a rush from the red line to score the game winning overtime goal to lead the Islanders to a 2-1 win over the visiting Los Angeles Kings in a matinee at the Nassau Coliseum Saturday.
The game was a physical battle and many Islanders players said it had a playoff atmosphere. Officially, the Islanders were credited with 48 hits and the Kings 41. Andrew MaDonald led the way for the Islanders with seven hits while Matt Greene of the Kings led all skaters with nine.
The game was also a contest between two teams with struggling offenses and neither team did much to show they were coming out of their funk any time soon. Throughout the game, the Kings passes seemed a half-step ahead or behind their intended targets, something that has plagued the team throughout the season according to a pair of team officials I spoke to after the game.
The Islanders also struggled offensively at times, failing to cash in on several quality scoring opportunities when they did establish possession inside the Kings zone.
That’s why the way this game ended came as such a surprise. Streit took a drop pass from Matt Moulson around the red line and ended up beating all for Los Angeles players on the ice before lifting a backhand past a shocked Jonathan Quick to end the game at 1:36 of the extra session.
“I just got off the bench and Matt Moulson was standing still at the red line and he passed me the puck,” Streit said when asked about the game winning tally. “I was going against four guys and I really didn’t know what to do so I just took a shot at it and tried to go through them and luckily enough it worked out and I got the game winner. It’s certainly not a goal I score every day.”
The Islanders broke on top 6:52 into the contest when Michael Grabner scored off a scramble for a loose puck from just outside the crease. It was Grabner’s 15th goal of the season and ended an eight game dry spell for last year’s Calder Cup finalist.
The Kings dominated the second period, outshooting the Islanders 12-4 and really testing Evgeni Nabokov who finished the game with 34 saves. They managed to tie the score when Andrei Loktionov tipped home a puck from in front. The Kings had two players in front of the Islanders net when Rob Scuderi made a centering pass and both Loktionov and Dustin Brown touched the puck before it went past Nabokov.
After that, it was the physical play that dominated the game. Matt Martin left the game for part of the third period after slamming hard into the boards during a hard hit while Matt Moulson got hit in the back and the ribs during the game, but managed to stay on the ice and assist on the eventual game winning goal.
“We weathered the storm,” Isles Coach Jack Capuano said after the game. “They had some quality chances but I thought we did a pretty good job of protecting the dangerous areas of the ice.”
The win was a big one for an Islanders team that suffered difficult losses to Montreal and Buffalo earlier in the week and is trying to gain ground and get back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.
“At the end of the day, two points is what we needed,” Moulson said. “We got the win. It was big. Last game we didn’t play the way we wanted to but we came out tonight and it was an intense game. We played hard and everybody really sacrificed themselves and it was a big team win.”
The Islanders don’t have much time to celebrate the victory, however, as they return to action Sunday afternoon when they host the Florida Panthers. The Kings continue their road trip Sunday afternoon in Dallas when they take on the Stars.
Prior to the game, former Isles defenseman Kenny Jonsson was inducted into the Islanders Hall of Fame. Jonsson is the fourth and final player to be inducted this season, joining Ed Westfall, Ken Morrow and Patrick Flatley.
Former Islander Trent Hunter played for the Kings. It was Hunter’s first game back at the Nassau Coliseum since the Islanders traded him this past summer.
Jordan Nolan, the son of ex-Isles Coach Ted Nolan, was also in uniform for the Kings.