PHILADELPHIA -- Colin McDonald -- the 28-year-old with seven career NHL games under his belt coming into the season, the guy who got double-shifted and scored the tying and go-ahead goals in the last half of the third period of the Islanders' 4-3 shootout win over the Flyers last night -- has been an Islander for only this season, but he's seen plenty.
"We've been through a lot of ups and downs this season, and we've created a lot of adversity for ourselves," McDonald said. "But I've said it a lot: There's a ton of character in this room. The guys like each other, they believe in each other. You don't want to say too much, but we have a good feeling in here."
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"We found a way to win. That's what we need right now," said Evgeni Nabokov, who was beaten by Scott Hartnell's jam attempt after a frantic scramble with 29.8 seconds left in the third to tie the score and send it to overtime. Nabokov made three saves on four attempts in the shootout, setting it up for Bailey to score the winner past Ilya Bryzgalov.
The Islanders didn't raise their level of desperation until about the seven-minute mark of the second period. They were down 2-0 after one and were being outshot 9-1 through the opening minutes of the second when Jack Capuano briefly jumbled his lines to create a spark.
It worked, even without producing a goal. That came with a minute left in the second, when John Tavares spun a backhand toward the Flyers' net that hit two skates -- Luke Schenn's, then Erik Gustafsson's -- and went into the net. It was the first Islanders goal on Bryzgalov in nearly five full periods this season.
"All of a sudden, you're one shot away,'' Capuano said of Tavares' lucky 21st of the season.
That's where McDonald, with no goals in his previous 10 games, came in. He finished off a good passing play from Michael Grabner to Keith Aucoin to McDonald in the slot, roofing a snap shot with 9:56 left in the third.
McDonald, on later with Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin, corraled a bouncing puck and slapped a shot that went off former Islander Bruno Gervais' skate and in with 4:23 to go, putting the Islanders in front.
After an icing and a faceoff violation penalty to Frans Nielsen gave the Flyers a six-on-four advantage in the final 1:32, Hartnell tied it. But the Islanders, even after squandering a power play in overtime, stayed steady and got to the shootout, where they are 3-0 this season.
"We were a confident group in the third, in OT," said McDonald, who fought Hartnell in the first. "Nabby kept us in it and we stuck with our system. It's a good character win for sure."
The Islanders, winners of four straight on the road, now head to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins, owners of a 14-game winning streak. Any other of the last five Islanders seasons, this would be a recipe for ugliness. But perhaps those dark days are starting to get behind the Islanders.
"You can't look back," Bailey said. "We're focused on where we are now and how we can get to the next level."