NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The New York Islanders gave coach Jack Capuano another reminder of just how resilient they are this season.
Brock Nelson scored with 6:08 left, helping the Islanders rally after blowing a two-goal lead in the third period with a 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators on March 5.
“We’ve got a positive group,” Capuano said. “It’s such a different team than we’ve had in the past. I’ve said that. We just wanted to play with poise and confidence moving forward.”
With the win, the Islanders moved back atop the Metropolitan Division, two points ahead of the idle Rangers, and swept the season series with Nashville for the first time. The Islanders had been 2-7-0 all-time in Nashville, which is second in the Western Conference. They beat Nashville on Long Island two weeks ago.
“It’s just a good way to come in here on the road against a tough team,” Nelson said. “It’s tough to beat them twice in a short span here, and we were able to find a way. It’s a good bounce-back game for us.”
Jaroslav Halak made 28 saves as the Islanders also snapped a two-game skid and sent the Predators to their fifth straight loss. John Tavares had a goal and an assist, and Anders Lee and Nick Leddy also had goals. Johnny Boychuk added two assists.
Colin Wilson, Craig Smith and Mike Ribeiro each scored a goal for the slumping Predators, who extended their worst skid of the season.
The Predators, who trailed 3-1 after Leddy’s goal at 8:39 of the third, scored two goals 31 seconds apart to tie it before Nelson put the Islanders ahead to stay.
Halak preserved the Islanders’ 2-1 lead early in the third with a stop on James Neal in the opening seconds. Halak also got a bit of luck when a shot by Filip Forsberg hit off the crossbar and Taylor Beck hit a post. Then, Leddy put the Islanders up 3-1.
But, Ribeiro had a slap shot by Ryan Ellis glance off his right glove past Halak at 10:16 that stood upon review. Smith roofed a wrister 31 seconds later, tying it up. Nelson scored off the rebound of a shot by Michael Grabner from the slot.
“The guys played hard and fought back,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “Catch a tough bounce on the rebound that jumps over a defenseman’s stick, so, tough bounce.”
The Islanders were without forward Matt Martin, suspended a game without pay for kneeing Dallas defenseman Trevor Daley on March 4. They also played without Tyler Kennedy because of a lower body injury on the second of a four-game road swing.
A snowstorm made travel treacherous, leaving the Predators with 12,107 who chanced the roads with others from the sellout taking advantage of a two-for-one ticket exchange next season with only eight home games left.
Tavares gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead when he scored on a wraparound with his wrister beating Rinne’s glove at 11:24, tying his career high with his 31st goal.
Lee tipped in a shot at 18:30 for the rookie’s 22nd goal this season.
“For the most part after, although with a shaky start, we were the better team, and we created opportunities and got them to pay off,” Tavares said.
Nashville finally got the puck past Halak just before the end of the first. Wilson capped a flurry at Halak with a wrister with 1.2 seconds left in the period, a goal that officials reviewed to make sure it crossed the line in time. Wilson now has a career-high 20 goals.
“We’ve just got to stop getting down in these games,” Wilson said. “We keep starting off behind and we keep having to battle back.”
(TERESA M. WALKER, AP Sports Writer)
Source: The National Herald