For the third time in four games the New York Islanders entered the third period with a one-goal lead, and for a third time they found a different way to relinquish it. But this time they got their lead back and sealed a regulation 2-1 win on Casey Cizikas' late goal.
Even if the Isles' extra-time luck might have changed after a couple of shootout/OT losses over the last week, this was a much preferred result. The regulation win kept the New Jersey Devils from keeping a share of the evening's points, and gave the Isles the edge in this separated home-and-home after the Isles lost via shootout Saturday in Newark.
It also represented the Isles' first win in three tries without John Tavares, their ill captain whose status for Thursday in Montreal is still to be determined.
A Better Start: In contrast to some of the games during the winless streak and even some wins that preceded it, the Isles looked alive from the get-go tonight, showing much better energy in the first period and change. But New Jersey has played them well since the preseason, and had the majority of push in the latter half of the second and early in the third.
Youngsters Alive: The somewhat maligned trio of younger Isles forwards broke through in a sense when Brock Nelson scored, poking at a rebound after Anders Lee screened in front. In general Nelson, Lee and Ryan Strome had games that might attract notice and encouragement from the coaching staff that has tacitly challenged them to step up.
A New Way to Falter: Whereas against Carolina the Isles sat back for 15 minutes before giving up the equalizer, and against Buffalo they controlled play but suffered a counterattack goal, tonight it was yet a different route to near-disappointment. That would be...
...The PK Finally Concedes: The penalty kill finally broke after an unreal streak of 29 consecutive successes. That makes Travis Zajac's the first goal allowed in 30 kills, if you're mathing at home. A shot block by Nick Leddy bounced right to Zajac who buried it from the slot.
Stingy Still: One thing that still hasn't broken is the goaltending. With 23 saves Jaroslav Halak continued the Isles' run of win-worthy performances from their goalies. That's all you can ask for from the crease.
Fourth Line Converts Late: In a goal to turn Isles message boards on their heads, chief whipping boy Brian Strait sent a shot from the point that Matt Martin smoothly deflected and Casey Cizikas finished for the go-ahead goal with just 2:12 left in regulation. That one got the heartiest YES! YES! YES! I think we've seen thus far in Barclays Center's young hockey life.
It Could Have Been...: It could have been 3-1 on a potential empty netter from Josh Bailey, who hit the outside of the post in the final minute. That came after an exit from the Isles zone by Kyle Okposo, who was taken down in what could have been a penalty.
Instead, play went back toward the Isles zone and they were called for a too many men penalty with 20 seconds left. The Devils won the ensuing faceoff and got off a couple dangerous shots, but the final one went wide and out of the zone to kill the game.
Hockey, it's not so good for the heart.
Matt Martin on the new alternate jerseys: "I like 'em. We look meaner."— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) November 4, 2015