Islanders try to keep momentum going vs. Flames
NEW YORK -- A pair teams feeling decidedly different about their most recent games will face each other Sunday night when the New York Islanders host the Calgary Flames at Barclays Center.
The Islanders earned one of the most unlikely wins imaginable Friday night, when they overcame a three-goal deficit by scoring four goals during a five-minute power play late in the third period before edging the visiting Detroit Red Wings 7-6 in overtime on Brock Nelson's goal, which capped his second career hat trick.
It was only the third time in NHL history a team won a game in which it trailed by three goals with 5:26 left, which was when New York began its comeback.
The Flames had their three-game winning streak snapped Friday, when they fell to the Rangers in New York 4-3.
The stunning comeback by the Islanders (27-23-6) salvaged what was looking like a disastrous set of back-to-back games against Eastern Conference non-contenders -- they fell to the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 on Thursday night -- and allowed them to at least tread water in the packed Eastern Conference wild card race.
The win Friday momentarily lifted New York into sole possession of the second wild card, though they fell into a tie for ninth in the conference Saturday by virtue of wins by the Columbus Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina has 61 points, one more than Columbus and the Islanders.
"That's a huge comeback and just a huge two points, going from getting zero points in two games against Buffalo and Detroit to squeaking out a win," Islanders center Mathew Barzal told Newsday following an optional practice Saturday. Barzal collected five assists Friday in becoming the first player in 100 years to register three five-point games as a rookie.
The loss for the Flames (28-19-8), meanwhile, stalled their surge up the Pacific standings. Calgary fell into a tie for fourth in the division with the Anaheim Ducks, one point behind the Los Angeles Kings.
Afterward, the Flames lamented the slow start and slow finish that likely cost them the game. Calgary was outshot 20-8 in the first period but took a 3-2 lead into the third period, when the Rangers scored a pair of goals six minutes apart.
"From the start of the game we didn't deserve to win -- it's as simple as that," Flames left winger Matthew Tkachuk said. "For us to be up 3-2 after two was kind of a miracle and it caught up with us in the third."
The Islanders' Jaroslav Halak and the Flames' Mike Smith will likely oppose one another in goal Sunday night.
Halak earned an eventful win Friday, when he stopped seven of eight shots after relieving Thomas Greiss with 10:06 remaining in the third and the Islanders down 5-2. If he starts Sunday, it will be the 19th time in the last 23 games Halak has been in net for New York.
Smith took the loss Friday, when he recorded 32 saves.
Halak is 8-5-1 in 14 career appearances against the Flames. Smith is 4-3-0 in seven games against the Islanders.
The game Sunday will serve as a homecoming for Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic, who spent the first seven seasons of his career with the Islanders before being dealt to Calgary for three draft picks last June 24. Hamonic is expected to receive a video tribute during a first period stoppage.