Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:UNIONDALE, N.Y. — In their first game since the Olympic break ended the Islanders came away with a dramatic 5-4 overtime victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Despite blowing a one-goal lead in the third period, the Islanders came from behind twice to in the game’s final frame to force OT. Newly crowned assistant captain Lubomir Visnovsky scored the game winner 1:55 into the extra period. The Islander defenseman was in the right place at the right time as the puck found him in the slot and he shot it past Jonathan Bernier.
“I just shoot on the net,” Visnovsky said of the game winner. “I think the goalie (might have) touched it. It was a little bit of a lucky shot.”
The win was a boost for the Islanders, who struggled going into the Olympic break. And without their captain John Tavares the team is facing an even tougher battle to climb back into the playoff picture. Thursday night the Islanders responded well in their first game without Tavares. Michael Grabner scored two shorthanded goals and rookie Anders Lee had two goals of his own in the third.
With the Isles trailing 1-0 in the first period Michael Grabner recorded two shorthanded goals in the span of 48 seconds to put his team ahead 2-1. It was the first time since April 17, 1999 that an Islander player scored two goals on the same penalty kill.
The score remained that way until the Leafs found the back of the net in the third period. Paul Ranger tied the game 8:50 into the game and Dion Phaneuf gave Toronto the 3-2 lead moments later off a one-timer from the face-off circle.
Lee scored the first of his two goals at 12:52 during a power play, but Joffrey Lupul gave the Maple Leafs the lead right back a little over minute later. However with things looking bleak for the Islanders, Lee found the back of the net again. This time finding a way to push the puck past Bernier during a scramble in front of the net.
“He (the ref) saw it moving. Didn’t stop until it got in,” Lee explained. The two goals were the first for Lee this season and the first time he’s scored since his NHL debut back on April 2, 2013 against the Winnipeg Jets.
Islander Head Coach Jack Capuano was happy with what he saw for Lee, along with Ryan Strome and Mike Halmo. Halmo and Lee were making their first NHL appearances of the year, and Strome was playing in his first NHL game since January 14.
“(Lee) is as advertised,” Capuano said. “He’s a big that goes to the net and that’s where he scores goals.”