UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The New York Islanders have been on the losing end of many roller-coaster finishes this season. So Lubomir Visnovsky's overtime goal lifting them to a wild 5-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs was especially satisfying.
The veteran defenseman's unassisted tally 1:55 into extra time ended a see-saw contest Thursday night in which the teams combined for five goals in an 8 1/2-minute span of the third period.
The winner came after Anders Lee scored two tying goals for the Islanders in his first game of the season. Evgeni Nabokov made 18 saves for New York, which improved to 5-1-2 in their last eight games against Toronto.
"Our singular focus is the task at hand, one period at a time and one game at a time," said Islanders coach Jack Capuano, whose squad will be without top scorer and captain John Tavares for the rest of the season with a knee injury suffered at the Olympics. "That team is big and strong. I like the fact we kept moving forward tonight."
Joffrey Lupul put Toronto ahead 4-3 with just over six minutes left in the third before Lee knotted the score at 17:20 with his second of the game. Lupul's 18th of the season at 13:54 came just over a minute after Lee tied it at 3 with his first goal.
Lee's power-play goal came after Dion Phaneuf had put Toronto ahead 3-2 at 11:26.
Phaneuf's sixth goal of the season came less than three minutes after Paul Ranger tied it at 2.
"You can't win in this league giving goals as gifts," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "They tried to grind and we tried to outskill them. They did a better job."
After Toronto's Phil Kessel opened the scoring at 6:53 of the first with his 32nd goal of the season, New York's Michael Grabner scored two short-handed goals 48 seconds apart late in the period.
The Islanders held that lead entering the third before the outburst by both teams.
Kessel, who scored five goals for Team USA in Sochi, took a pass in the high slot before whipping the puck past Nabokov. Only Washington's Alex Ovechkin has more goals than Kessel.
Grabner answered for the Islanders with his first short-handed score at 15:53 off an assist from Casey Cizikas. The Austrian forward then took advantage of a misplay by Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier, intercepting an attempted pass by the netminder in the crease and sliding the puck into the empty net at 16:41.
The goal was the 11th of the season for Grabner, who tied Kessel in goals at the Olympics.
"It's a game of mistakes, but at least we got a point out of it," Bernier said.
The last Islanders player to score two short-handed goals on the same power play was Ziggy Palffy, 53 seconds apart on April 17, 1999.
"We kept coming and obviously had a big shift to score that tying goal," Grabner said. "Everyone fed off each other tonight. We still have a lot of games left. Hopefully we can keep it up."
The Islanders (23-30-8), had lost seven of eight games heading into the Olympic break.
They were also without forwards Frans Nielsen (hand) and Matt Martin (lower body). Both had played all 60 previous games this season, while Tavares had missed only one contest.
|Boston - WP: M. Ott||4||FINAL|
|Minnesota - LP: M. Hoffman||3|
|UC Santa Barbara||38|
|San Diego St||73|
|Utah Valley U||83|
|Cal State Fullerton||56||FINAL|
|Long Beach State||66|
|Sam Houston St||70|
|New Mexico St||70|
|Miss Valley St||68||FINAL|
|(22) Middle Tennessee||69|
|William & Mary||65|