Unbelievably, file another blown two-goal, third-period lead in the books for the New York Islanders, as they let the Edmonton Oilers tie the game at 2-2 before Taylor Hall deflected in Sam Gagner's shot to win in overtime.
This one wasn't quite your typical collapse, but it will go in the annals just the same. After building a 2-0 lead in the first period, the Isles kept pushing play in the middle frame and hardly parked the bus in the third. Shots were 23-14 for the Isles through two periods, and third-period shots were 11-9 in Edmonton's favor. Against Edmonton that's not exactly an accomplishment, however.
The Albertans broke the ice midway through the third, turning a failed clear into Ryan Smyth's franchise record 126th power play goal. Later, needing a save to hang on to the win, they got one from Cal Clutterbuck but not from Evgeni Nabokov. He had some scary moments before Philip Larsenn finally equalized when he drew Nabokov out of his net at the goal line, then pulled back to the forehand to score.
That sequence erased a good 50 minutes by the Isles -- oh, that broken record again -- with the scoreboard marked by a Frans Nielsen shorthanded goal and Anders Lee's fourth goal in five games, his fifth in seven for his young NHL career.
Nielsen's shot was a great snapper to the top corner on a two-on-one with Clutterbuck. Lee's was a deflection of a Brian Strait shot. In the end, they needed both just to walk out of Edmonton with one point.
- The Oilers broadcast on Rogers Conglomerated Industries credited Mark Fraser with starting the comeback for "setting the tone" in the third. Matt Martin reset the tone by fighting him after he ran around during the third period. But oddly, to these eyes it looked like the skill of Larson, Gagner and Hall that gave the Oilers the win (with an assist from Nabokov's positioning on the tying goal).
- I'm not sure if this was a specific gameplan or just part of their tendencies together, but during the third period Lee and Ryan Strome spent a lot of time working the puck down low behind the Oilers net. It didn't generate many chances but it burned some time while keeping the Oilers defense working.
- In the dying seconds of regulation, Brian Strait freed Michael Grabner for an angled break-in behind the Oilers defense, but Ben Scrivens did well to stop Grabner's high backhand shot.
- If Nabokov was scary in the third period, in overtime he was given zero help, and that is when the Islanders collectively got careless. In 4-on-4 action they forced him to make several point-blank saves before Gagner's play through Hall finally beat him.
- On that winner, Kyle Okposo and Strait had turned the puck over on a bad exchange at center ice, initiated by Okposo trying to make a move, and accentuated by Strait mishandling the leftovers. Strait made a diving flail to strip Gagner, but the center eluded that easily.
- Had the Islanders cashed in any of their four power plays (Lee's goal came on a delayed penalty), the above wouldn't have been necessary.
- David Perron took penalties. David Perron drew penalties. On good days, the tempestuous kid also scores, too.
- Wayne Gretzky was in the building, doing pre-game press, accepting in-game arena tributes, and doing turns on each team's broadcast. To Butch Goring, who said fans on Twitter were prompting him to ask about Billy Smith, Gretzky said "I've said this a lot, he's the best goalie I ever faced. We hated each other, but that's because we both were competitors who want to win. We respect each other."
- On the topic of Oilers records: Elsewhere on this night, Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon broke Gretzky's mark for point streak by an 18-year-old (13) tonight. Better living through tanking.
May the current generation of Islanders and Oilers one day have good enough casts to need to hate each other.
The Season, in Snapshot Form
#Isles now 2-6-5 after blowing a 2-goal lead this season, 9-5-5 when leading after 2 periods.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) March 7, 2014