Michael Dal Colle’s second NHL goal was the game winner as the New York Islanders rode a string of three unanswered third-period goals to take the game from the Los Angeles Kings and deliver a rousing 4-2 victory for a raucous Nassau Coliseum crowd.
The win continued the Islanders’ “cushion” at the top of the Metropolitan Division, now four points ahead of the Capitals and Penguins. It also extended a season-high eight-game point streak, bouncing back from two shootout losses that followed a five-game win streak.
The Kings were coming off an unprecedented 11-day All-Star-and-bye-week break, while the Islanders were playing the second of back-to-back nights coming off a nine-game break of their own.
It looked like the more rested team would win the day when the Kings took a 2-1 lead with under seven minutes remaining in regulation. But Mathew Barzal tied it quickly, and Dal Colle deflected the winner home four minutes later. Brock Nelson’s empty-netter with 91 seconds left sealed the final score.
Casey Cizikas opened scoring and continued a career year with his 12th goal of the season on a goal we’ve seen him score many times before: gliding into the slot after setting up a point shot, hunting for the rebound and kicking it from his skate to his stick while a helpless goalie flails one step behind.
But that goal was matched Anze Kopitar two minutes later, finishing a broken two-on-one after Scott Mayfield couldn’t quite break up the pass, and Devon Toews couldn’t quite catch position on Kopitar after getting back into the play.
It was a pretty physical first period, much like the previous night against the Lightning, and that vaunted third/fourth line with Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin was more than ready for that type of game.
The second period was scoreless, though hardly uneventful, but the visitors had the better of play and created at least some doubt that the Islanders hot streak would continue. Robin Lehner made 13 of his 34 saves in this period, before making another 14 in the third.
#Isles Barry Trotz said he limited the ice time of the Beauvillier-Barzal-Bailey line through first two periods because they weren't playing all that well. "The line stopped working and was looking for skill plays. The top players in this league have to fight for their inches."— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) February 3, 2019
Ah yes, the third period. “Eventful” doesn’t quite cut it. It was getting a bit frustrating, as the Islanders’ incredible streak of defensive stinginess was meeting some offensive anemia.
Sure enough, the Kings broke through to take the lead at 13:15.
Anze Kopitar worked some foul magic at the top of the slot to set up Dustin Brown, who caught Robin Lehner with a quick shot (and a fortuitous deflection of a shot that was otherwise going wide), to give the Kings a 2-1 lead late in the game.
Thankfully, Barzal didn’t let that lead last.
The Islanders wünderkind redirected a Ryan Pulock shot past Jonathan Quick just 31 seconds later to tie it at 2-2. Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Bailey had done good work in the corner to win the puck and pass it to Pulock at the blueline, respectively.
The Saturday night Coliseum crowd was on fire all night, but that quick equalizer really pumped up the volume.
What a thrill, then, it must have been for Dal Colle to notch the go-ahead goal less than four minutes later. After an initial noisy surge, things had calmed down a bit at the 16-minute mark. But an outstanding shift by Dal Colle’s line with Valtteri Filppula and Leo Komarov set the stage. Dal Colle was stalking different parts of the zone before the opening came to deftly deflect Pulock’s shot in.
The rest felt inevitable; what was once a frustrating night quickly turned around into a party. Nelson had a chance at an empty netter right off the bat, but he didn’t miss his second chance later in the same shift.
Tao of Trotz
“I was really happy with the way we responded. We just stayed with it. Instead of getting discouraged we got determined. And that’s a sign of growth for us.”
Tuesday night the Islanders are in Boston, where the Bruins are getting closer and closer to full health.