WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The Islanders overcome a sloppy first 40 minutes to get one point. But they should have had two, and the Jets should have come away empty-handed after John Tavares and his teammates took over the game early in the third period.
The 5-4 overtime loss Sunday night to the Jets, on Evander Kane's rebound shot that barely crawled over the goal line at 1:59 of OT, closed a wacky, up-and-down game at the MTS Centre.
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"Long story short," Kyle Okposo said, "we've got to get two points here."
Tavares' breakaway goal past former teammate Al Montoya just 22 seconds into the third tied it, improbably, at 2-2. Only Evgeni Nabokov (30 saves) kept the game from getting out of hand through two periods, as the Jets played bigger and faster in the Isles' zone, creating golden chance after golden chance.
But Tavares' first goal in 16 games, dating to last season, sparked his line to life. Tavares flipped a shot from the blue line that Matt Moulson redirected past Montoya at 5:09 of the third to put the Isles ahead; after Keith Aucoin's line did some solid work in the Jets' zone to draw a power play, Mark Streit blasted home a one-timer for a 4-2 lead at 9:53 and Tavares' third point of the third period.
"Johnny got that big goal early in the third and we got some momentum and just kept building on it," said David Ullstrom, who scored on a two-on-one just 2:34 into the first for a quick Isles lead. "We just kind of took over."
And then, with a very iffy hooking call to Ullstrom with 7:45 to go in the third, the Jets took it back. Dustin Byfuglien's blast from the point caromed off the post and in, the first power-play goal allowed by the Isles in 17 tries this season.
Tavares' line didn't look so hot on its next shift. Tavares and Moulson collided near the blue line, leaving room for Alex Burmistrov to skate around them and snap a shot off Nabokov's glove and in with 5:56 to play.
"That's a big breakdown," Jack Capuano said. "Those are our veteran guys."
In the OT, the Isles had the better of the play, but Aucoin tried a pass back that caught two of his teammates heading toward the Winnipeg net. Nabokov got some of Olli Jokinen's shot, but Kane dribbled the rebound over the line, causing plenty of anger in the visitors' room.
There was plenty through 40 minutes as well. Ullstrom's solo effort was negated by a total mess by Tavares' line and the Travis Hamonic-Andrew MacDonald pair, with Burmistrov leveling Tavares behind the Isles' net and Alexei Ponikarovsky finishing off the play from the slot with four Islanders close by.
In the second, Bryan Little beat Matt Martin down the slot to snap a shot past a helpless Nabokov at 5:13 for a 2-1 Jets lead. They outshot the Islanders 23-15 through two periods, but Nabokov made half a dozen stops from close in to keep the game within reach.
"We couldn't close quick enough," Capuano said. "Their forwards did a great job, beating us to pucks and establishing position, and we were running around a little bit."
Even with that start, the finish line was there.
"It's crucial," Nabokov said. "Seven or eight minutes left, two-goal lead, we have to be at our best."