For the second consecutive contest the New York Islanders took a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the game with a goal from an unlikely fourth-line source. Unlike Saturday's 1-0 shutout in New Jersey, however, they would need more than that as Jaroslav Halak's shutout was broken in the final 30 seconds of the second period.
But an outstanding night on special teams and a thorough effort overall yielded a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Wild to start their long road trip 2-0 and pull to within three points of second place in the Metro with two games in hand on the crosstown Smurfs. It was Minnesota's first loss under their new coach, John Torchetti.
Saturday it was Casey Cizikas crashing the net on the first shift to open scoring; tonight it was Matt Martin following up a little shuffleboard dump from Steve Bernier off the end boards, the side of the net to Devan Dubnyk's right, and finally to Martin, who chipped the puck in like Emmett Fitz-Hume getting rid of an uninvited KGB grenade.
Frans Nielsen doubled the lead on the power play 11 minutes later, converting a pretty passing play from John Tavares.
But a strong first 39 minutes -- including three more successful penalty kills -- and 2-0 lead was jeopardized by lackadaisical coverage by the first line late in the second period. They allowed extra shots and a wide open rebound for Chris Porter to knock home and make it 2-1 heading into the second intermission.
The Isles didn't let that drag them down into the third period, and they cashed in with a dizzying series of passes on the power play after Eric Houla was penalized for hooking 1:56 into the period. John Tavares finished at the doorstep after sending Nielsen's pass to the point to Nick Leddy, who fed Kyle Okposo on the left wing, who sent to Anders Lee at the top of the crease, leaving Tavares free to make it 3-1.
Not long afterward, Okposo had a golden chance to make it 4-1 on a rare breakaway, but Dubnyk read his moves and gloved the forehand try.
Before the night was over the PK would be called on two more times to make it a perfect 5 for 5. Combined with the 2-for-3 power play, all phases of their game were working in front of Halak, who made 30 saves.
Afterward, and in light of considerable work the aisles did in practicing the power play yesterday, Nielsen practically channeled the diagnosis from our Islanders Anxiety podcast this week:
"We made a few changes. We were looking at our shot totals and, earlier, we were waiting for the perfect play and the big chances. Now, we're keeping it simple, we're shooting more pucks and [we're] a little hungrier on those rebounds."
Nielsen ended up getting the empty netter for his second of the night to seal things off.
Quote(s) of the Night
"There's the rub from the coach saying, 'Nice goal, Fransie.'"
>>Butch Goring, as Nielsen received a shoulder rub on the bench after his goal while in a rather direct discussion with the officials about Jarret Stoll taking a big slash at his leg
"Honestly, I don't even know what happened....it came right to me."
>>Matt Martin, trying to explain his goal to Shannon Hogan
Next up: West, young man.