Brad Boyes' OT goal gives Islanders victory over Devils
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NEWARK -- The Islanders want to grow, learn and become a team that doesn't give away leads.
They also want to win. And in this shortened season, that's just what they've been doing.
Brad Boyes jammed home a loose puck off a scramble 2:01 into overtime as the Islanders beat the Devils, 5-4, capping a 3-1-1 road trip that featured wondrous special-teams play.
The Islanders (4-2-1) moved into a virtual tie with the Devils atop the Atlantic Division but still see room for improvement.
"You want to be a team that can close other teams out because you can't give anyone a chance to come back," Travis Hamonic said. "We've got some things we need to address. But we dug in when we needed to and we got a win here."
The digging in was mostly on either the power play or the penalty kill, and the Isles worked at both in overtime. A too-many-men penalty with 1:29 left in the third period of a 4-4 game gave the Devils a chance for a late victory.
Evgeni Nabokov, who had 28 saves, thwarted Ilya Kovalchuk's blast with 10 seconds left in the third. In OT, with the Devils on a four-on-three advantage for the first 29 seconds, Nabokov stopped Kovalchuk again, then made the save on Patrik Elias' drive while lying flat in the crease to keep it tied.
The Isles got a power-play chance 1:47 into OT and made it count. Boyes forced Martin Brodeur into a turnover behind the Devils' net, then finished off a wild scramble for the Isles' third power-play goal of the game and sixth in the last three games.
"It's moving the puck around, getting the shots on net when we have a two-on-one isolated," said Jack Capuano, who missed the final seven minutes of regulation and OT after taking a puck to the left eye and requiring five stitches. "We're really concentrating on converging to the net."
John Tavares scored the first of his two goals on the power play at 14:31 of the first. Then Keith Aucoin scored on the power play at 2:41 of the second, giving the Isles five straight power-play conversions over three games.
But the Devils tied it on goals by pluggers Steve Bernier and Ryan Carter. Tavares gave the Isles the lead back at 7:31, but Henrik Tallinder tied it at 17:12 after the Isles were penned in their own zone for nearly two minutes.
"These are correctable mistakes," said Aucoin, who scored his fourth goal and won 8 of 10 faceoffs. "It's getting pucks out when you have the chance, not turning it over. Those are easy things to do."
Aucoin's line forechecked its way to a turnover in the third and the Isles got the lead back when Mark Streit's shot ticked off Adam Larsson's stick and behind Brodeur at 11:32. But Adam Henrique broke through poor coverage to beat Nabokov with a backhand for a 4-4 tie at 13:50.
Seven of 10 points on a road trip is cause for celebration, trumping the causes for concern. The Isles have scored 26 goals in the last six games and are forcing teams such as the Penguins and Devils to play a more wide-open style.
"We can still be a lot better," said Tavares, who has four goals and three assists in his last three games. "But we're starting to understand our game. We're a tough team to play against when we're skating and forcing teams into turnovers."