Isles Get Past Toronto In Overtime
In a battle of the Olympics’ top two goal scorers, the New York Islanders came out on top on the strength of Lubomir Visnovsky’s snap shot from the slot 1:55 into overtime.
Toronto’s Phil Kessel and the Islanders’ Michael Grabner each had five goals in Sochi to pace Men’s hockey in the Olympics, and each of these wingers factored in tonight’s offense.
Kessel got things going for the Maple Leafs in the first period, scoring six minutes and 53 seconds in. It was his 32 goal this season.
Grabner responded late in the period in dramatic fashion. Grabner became the first New York Islander to score two shorthanded goals on the same penalty kill since Ziggy Palffy did it in 1999. Grabner forced a turnover in the neutral zone and got the puck into the offensive zone. The puck found its way to the stick of Grabner’s penalty kill partner Casey Cizikas who was able to get it back to Grabner. Grabner then put the puck past Toronto netminder Jonathan Bernier.
48 seconds later, Grabner took advantage of a bad pass between Bernier and defenseman Morgan Rielly. Bernier’s pass bounced off Rielly skate and right to Grabner who tapped the puck into the empty net.
The Isles’ one goal lead would stand until the third period when both teams started finding the net. James Van Riemsdyk got a puck past New York goalie Evgeni Nabokov; however his shot kicked off the near post and back to the top of the crease. Nabokov couldn’t locate the puck, but Maple Leaf Paul Ranger could. His tap got the puck into the Isles’ net.
About two and a half minutes later, Toronto’s Tyler Bozak fed defenseman Dion Phaneuf who one-timed the puck past a sliding Nabokov to give the Leafs their first lead since the first period.
The lead didn’t last long.
On the power play, Isles’ defenseman Calvin de Haan shot-passed the puck to a wide open Josh Bailey. Bailey then fed Anders Lee on the far side of the net. Lee settled the puck down and put it in the empty goal.
Joffrey Lupul restored Toronto’s lead a mere minute later beating Nabokov short side off a backhand. The goal was Lupul’s 18th.
With less than 2 minutes remaining in regulation, it was Lee to the rescue again. The rookie, playing in his first game of the season, tipped a pass that got past the Maple Leaf goaltender.
The goal stood after a review in Toronto and the game went to overtime. Both teams had rushes early that could have ended it, but it was the Isles who outworked the Maple Leafs and earned the W. Rookie Ryan Strome fought the puck loose from the boards behind the Leaf net and got it out to the slot. The puck bounced off of a Maple Leaf’s stick and reached Visnovsky who made no mistake.
Game notes: Tonight was the first game for either team after the Olympic break. Tonight was the season debut for Anders Lee and the NHL debut for winger Mike Halmo. Lee has three goals in three career NHL games. The Islanders are 10-4-2 in games in which Ryan Strome plays. New York’s penalty kill, ranked second to last in the NHL, held the Maple Leaf’s second ranked power play scoreless. The Isles were without John Tavares (MCL season ending), Frans Nielsen (hand returning soon) and Matt Martin (lower body returning soon).
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