The Islanders' red-eye flight home from Vancouver was a little more cheerful than it looked to be after two periods against the Canucks on Monday night. The Isles' unlikely seven-goal third period made sure of that, salvaging the last game of a very wild week in western Canada.
So perhaps the come-from-behind, 7-4 win over the Canucks was a fitting end to a 2-1-1 trip that had previously included three blown leads entering the third periods in Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary (with one overtime win, one OT loss and a regulation loss), a down-to-the-wire trade deadline in which longtime Islander Andrew MacDonald and short-time Islander Thomas Vanek moved out for draft picks and prospects and, finally, a franchise record-tying third period.
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"For sure, you never know what's going to happen in this game," Jack Capuano said after Monday's win. "We have all these young kids here and it's been great to see them work hard and get rewarded."
The Isles' rookies were in the middle of Monday's onslaught. Matt Donovan set up Josh Bailey's goal 1:13 into the third to kick it all off. Ryan Strome scored a five-on-three goal to cut the deficit to 3-2 and Calvin de Haan followed with the tying goal 23 seconds later.
Anders Lee, who has made the absolute most of his time in the NHL, moved up to take Michael Grabner's spot on the top line -- Grabner exited near the end of the second after taking a shoulder to the jaw -- and assisted on Frans Nielsen's 4-3 goal, then scored the 6-4 clincher later in the third.
It was a week in which smiles were few and far between. Garth Snow's trade deadline maneuverings were roundly mocked by Canadian television commentators, the Isles lost leads late on consecutive nights in Alberta and the Canucks appeared on their way to a comfortable win.
"It's obviously been a tough year," Colin McDonald said, "but we're playing hard every night and it paid off. It's a good feeling, despite the games we've given away."
Notes & quotes: The Islanders signed college free agent D Kevin Czuczman to a two-year deal worth $2.7 million. The 6-3, 205-pound junior from Lake Superior State was the most coveted college free agent on the market and the Islanders had been heavily interested for a long while. Czuczman, 23, led all WCHA defensemen with 10 goals. He will report directly to the Islanders.