Isles' Grabner completes hat trick in OT
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BUFFALO - Wonder how many teams would pick up Michael Grabner if he were on the waiver wire now?
Four months after the Islanders scooped up the former first-round draft pick from Florida on waivers, Grabner scored a hat trick Sunday - including the game-winner - in a 7-6 overtime victory over the Sabres at HSBC Arena, the Isles' third win in a row.
It wasn't Grabner's first hat trick - he had one for Vancouver on April 2, 2010, against Anaheim - but this one was more satisfying. "It's a little bit better this time, since I got it in overtime," he said. "It's a good win for the team."
The speedy 23-year-old winger has been scorching recently, with 11 points (nine goals, two assists) in the last five games and seven goals in the last three games.
"He can use his speed to his advantage," coach Jack Capuano said. "That's why he's getting these opportunities."
Grabner's 24th of the season came at 2:55 of overtime in front of a crowd already buzzing from a goalfest that featured five ties and a hat trick by the Sabres' Drew Stafford. Kyle Okposo's fourth assist of the game set up the OT goal.
"It was a great play by Kyle. I was just trying to get some speed in our zone and was trying to get open between the defense,'' Grabner said. "He made a great pass and [Andrej Sekera] mishandled it a little bit, so I got lucky."
Grabner scored 40 seconds into the first period and notched his second by going top shelf on goaltender Ryan Miller to tie it at 4 in the second.
Grabner's success isn't surprising to linemates Okposo and Frans Nielsen by now. They've seen him blow past defenders day in and day out during practice. But to some newcomers on the team, his skill has been stunning.
"Oh my God, the guy is a rocket. It's ridiculous,'' said defenseman Ty Wishart, who scored his first NHL goal on the power play at 12:48 of the third. "I'm happy he's on our team, that's for sure."
"The guy's unbelievable," goaltender Al Montoya said.
Montoya, who celebrated his 26th birthday Sunday, made 12 saves in relief to secure a win in his Islanders debut. He replaced Mikko Koskinen in the second period four days after being acquired for a sixth-round pick in this year's draft.
Blake Comeau scored a second-period goal in his first game back after missing four because of a concussion. Comeau's injury was the impetus for the messy slugfest with the Penguins at Nassau Coliseum on Friday night.
Milan Jurcina and Wishart scored power-play goals in a 76-second span in the third to give the Islanders a 6-5 lead before Stafford tied it at 13:19.
Notes & quotes: Jack Hillen did not play for precautionary reasons. He took a hard hit Friday, and the Islanders wanted to ensure he didn't develop concussion symptoms.