Facing the prospect of their first four-game losing streak of the season, the New York Islanders outplayed and outchanced the Philadelphia Flyers in their third meeting of the season, but the scoreboard looked bleak until the final three-plus minutes of the second period.
That's when Mikhail Grabovski and Cal Clutterbuck scored in a two-minute span to erase the Flyers' 2-0 lead and make the game a lot more promising headed into the third period. Grabovski's goal came on a quick reaction to a Luke Schenn turnover in front of the Flyers' goal; Clutterbuck's came on a fat rebound of a Brock Nelson shot from the left wing.
The Isles outshot the Flyers 22-11 through 40 minutes, though the third period proved tighter. It also required the Isles' only penalty kill of the game when John Tavares was whistled for the automatic "oops, the stick broke" slash on Wayne Simmonds. Mercifully, the much-maligned and struggling PK allowed only one shot through to Jaroslav Halak.
Halak was not busy -- just 18 shots faced plus the shootout -- but he was called for some key saves. After a mostly uneventful overtime -- save for a Sean Couturier breakaway that Halak denied -- Clutterbuck played the hero again by scoring the winning conversion in the seventh round.
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Matt Martin Nose Smash
Something venomous brewed early between Matt Martin and Ryan White, as they engaged in a fight just 2:11 into the game. Martin landed a big early punch to the head, but White scored the victory with several shots including one that sent Martin to the locker room with what was reported to be a broken nose.
Martin did return to the game, but he looked a bit different.
Matt Martin's nose looked a little different after his fight with Ryan White. http://t.co/gHvhKLv5zD pic.twitter.com/uyFTHofKYD— Eye on Hockey (@EyeOnHockey) February 6, 2015
Boychuk Dodges (well, takes then survives) A Bullet
Having lost three in a row and already missing Kyle Okposo to a long-term injury, the Isles faced another scare when Johnny Boychuk left the game in the second after taking a shot off the leg.
Fortunately he would return, though this one may hurt a while. After the game, he had both the hockey player lingo and the League Of Vague Injury Information vocab down pat:
#Isles Boychuk to MSG: Just a shot hit on the right spot… It was pretty painful… luckily it isn’t too bad and you try to walk it off.— Christian Arnold (@CA_NYHockey) February 6, 2015
#Islanders Johnny Boychuk on where Umberger shot hit him late in the second. "In the side of my lower body."— Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK) February 6, 2015
The shootout-slash-breakaway contest was a lengthy one, with only three total conversions. Frans Nielsen opened the exhibition by waiting out Mason before depositing his Danish Backhand of Judgment upstairs. Faced with a do-or-die situation in round three, Wayne Simmonds was the only Flyer to beat Halak.
Josh Bailey, Tavares, Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson and Grabovski were the Isles to miss in between Nielsen's opener and Clutterbuck's finisher. In round seven, Clutterbuck approached slow and Frans-like before zipping a shot from the slot low to Mason's right side. Halak then waited out Couturier's moves to seal the victory.
The Dads Celebrate the Final Save
This was rather cool (via Isles Instagram):
The two points for the regulation tie and shootout win puts the Isles back into first place in the Metropolitan Division by a point. They next face a tight road back-to-back, with a game in Boston Saturday night followed by a 5 p.m. start in Buffalo the next day.