While no one is about to order playoff tickets for the New York Islanders, you’d better expect to get a battle on most nights from the crew from Uniondale if their recent play is any example.
New York tallied five times on 11 shots in the final 24 minutes of a 7-6 overtime win over the host Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.
Michael Grabner, one of the bright spots for the Isles this season, capped a three-goal game by tallying on a breakaway 2:55 into the extra frame, lifting New York to its fourth three-game winning streak of the season.
The victory was one day after the NHL took its own shots at both the Isles and the Pittsburgh Penguins for their fight-filled encounter Friday evening on Long Island.
For New York, the NHL suspended Trevor Gillies (nine games) and Matt Martin (four), and fined the team $100,000 for failing to control its players against the Penguins in a contest that featured 346 penalty minutes, 10 ejections, 15 fighting majors and 20 misconducts.
“We went through a lot in the last 24 hours. You don’t know how the guys are going to respond,” Islanders Coach Jack Capuano told the media afterwards. “I was impressed with the way we battled and showed a lot of resilience until the end.”
Kyle Okposo (four assists) set up the game-winner by hitting Grabner on the fly at the Sabres’ blue-line. Having beaten Buffalo’s Andrej Sekera, Grabner let fly a shot past Ryan Miller and just inside the left post.
“It’s big for the team. After the last game, we had at home, we had to come out strong,” said Grabner, who has 24 goals to tie San Jose’s Logan Couture for the NHL rookie lead. “It was pretty crazy out there. It was up and down. We never gave up.”
John Tavares, Blake Comeau, Milan Jurcina and Ty Wishart also scored for the Islanders.
Meantime, New York goalie Mikko Koskinen was chased after allowing four goals on 14 shots.
Al Montoya, acquired in a trade with Phoenix last week, captured the win, stopping 12 shots in his first NHL appearance since April 2009.
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Written by Dave Thomas