The Islanders were looking at an ugly, familiar situation Saturday night when Drew Doughty’s point shot banked in off an Isles defenseman at 4:06 of the third to tie a game in which they had built a two-goal lead after two periods.
The Islanders’ third periods have ranged from OK to downright awful this season, one of the reasons Jack Capuano was fired last week. Now, after they watched their lead over the Kings disappear, there could have been plenty of angst on Doug Weight’s bench.
“Guys were talking. There was no hesitation at all,” Weight said of his crew after the Islanders’ 4-2 victory at Barclays Center. “There’s a million reasons for everything [that happened earlier in the season]. But we didn’t waver.”
Jason Chimera’s speed drew a power play and Anders Lee’s hand-eye coordination put the Isles back in front with 10:29 to play as Lee tipped home Nick Leddy’s point shot for his second goal of the game.
Even from there, the Islanders were the better team, outshooting the Kings 18-7. John Tavares’ power-play goal sealed the victory, the Islanders’ third straight. Now they’re five points out of the last Eastern Conference playoff spot.
“We’re outworking teams,” said goalie J-F Berube, who made 29 of his 34 saves in the first two periods and was the main reason the Islanders led by two after 40 minutes. “We gave up those two early in the third, but we picked up our game. We worked them deep in their zone. That’s all it is, our work.”
Weight didn’t hesitate when he took over for Capuano on Tuesday, telling Berube the next day that the young goaltender would be making his first start since Dec. 18 against the team that drafted him in 2009.
Even with Thomas Greiss coming off back-to-back shutouts, Weight wanted his young backup to be prepared. If Berube had any rust, his old Kings pals worked it out of him by getting to pucks quicker than the Isles and putting some dangerous shots on net early.
“That can definitely be a good thing when you haven’t played for a while,” Berube said. “It helped me get into the game.”
Chimera threw a hopeful wrist shot on net that Kings goaltender Peter Budaj headed down and into his own goal, the shot banking off Budaj’s mask and rolling in just 2:30 into the game. Lee scored on a rebound of Leddy’s shot at 7:09 of the second, a power-play marker that snapped an 0-for-21 slide.
But Jeff Carter scored 37 seconds into the third on the power play — snapping a shutout streak of 166:44 — and Doughty banked his shot in at 4:06.
“We kind of turned it on from there,” said Lee, who outmuscled Jake Muzzin for position to tip Leddy’s shot home in the third. “We stayed strong and it paid off.”