Elmont, NY–For once, it was the New York Islanders that were on the winning side of a late-game comeback.
Anders Lee scored twice in the third period against the Los Angeles Kings, sending the game into overtime, where Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s goal gave the Islanders the 3-2 win at UBS Arena on Saturday night.
“Our last few weeks of hockey have been pretty good,” Lee said. “We’ve just been building on that. We’ve responded the last two nights now. We’re continuing to grow as a team and building on what we’ve been working on. We’re going to have mistakes and mess things up a little bit. But you see what we did tonight; that’s a result of all the work that we’ve put in the process of sticking with it and having the right mentality.”
Kings goalie Cam Talbot looked to be on his way to his second straight shutout through 48:42 until Lee capitalized on a Mike Reilly rebound to finally get the Islanders on the board. Seven minutes later, the captain struck again to even the score, recording his first multi-goal game of the season.
“Very inspirational,” head coach Lane Lambert said of Lee’s performance. “He’s been playing really well. He’s been leading, he’s been forechecking and he’s been battling. He’s been getting to the net front, and he got rewarded tonight. I’m very happy for him.”
Before catching fire as of late, Lee seemed to be snake-bitten earlier in the season. That’s been the case currently for Pageau. But with his OT winner, the Islanders hope the goal is the sign of light at the end of the tunnel, both for him and themselves.
“It’s huge for him,” Lambert said. “What a finish. He really made a nice move to put it away, and it was nice to see for our whole group as well. We’ve had chances in overtime. We’ve had breakaways, and we’ve hit goalposts. It was nice to see it go in tonight.”
Only a few seconds into the extra period, Simon Holmstrom collected a bouncing puck off the half wall in the Islanders’ zone and chipped it ahead to Pageau. With speed, Pageau charged toward the goal and used his backhand to finish the play and the game with his second goal of the year.
“Holmstrom has a great hockey IQ,” Pageau said. “I’ve said for a while now, I think he’s making me better when I play with him. He made a hell of a read. Great chip and a hard play at a key moment in the game. Those key plays sometimes make a difference, and it did tonight.”
The Islanders’ comeback came after they entered the third period trailing 2-0, as goals by Adrian Kempe and Vladislav Gavrikov were the lone blemishes in Ilya Sorokin’s 34-save performance.
Kempe got the Kings on the board with a power play goal as the result of Scott Mayfield’s minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. It’s a penalty the Islanders will take time and time again, though, after Mayfield stepped up to fight Andreas Englund, who took down Mathew Barzal with a hit from behind in the open ice.
The goal by Kempe was the only one the Islanders surrendered on five shorthanded chances. The newly acquired Robert Bortuzzo was immediately thrown out on the penalty kill in his debut with the team.
“I tried to keep it simple,” Bortuzzo said. “It was a fun one to jump into, for sure. I felt like I got some trust from the coaches and got to play in some situations. Happy for this group to pull out a big win.”
The win for the Islanders is their first of the season when trailing after two periods. It also ended the Kings’ record of 11 consecutive road wins to start a season.
Now at 12-7-7, the Islanders sit securely in third place in the Metropolitan Division. They await another meeting with old friend John Tavares when the Toronto Maple Leafs come to town Monday night.