Wonder how many teams would pick up Michael Grabner if he was 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—including the game-winner—to beat the Sabres 7-6 in overtime at HSBC Arena.
It wasn’t Grabner’s first hat trick of his career—he also scored one for Vancouver 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,” Grabner said. “It’s a good win for the team.”
The speedy 23-year-old winger has been absolutely scorching recently, with 11 points (nine goals, one assist) in the last five games. Over the past three games, Grabner has seven goals, averaging more than two a game.
“He can use his speed to his advantage,” coach Jack Capuano said. “That’s why he’s getting these opportunities.”
His 24th of the season came at 2:55 of overtime to snap a 6-6 draw in front of a crowd that was already buzzing from a crazy goalfest that featured Sabres’ Drew Stafford’s hat trick as well.
“It was a great play by Kyle [Okposo]. I was just trying to get some speed in our zone and was trying to get open between the [defense],” Grabner said. “ [Okposo] made a great pass and [Andrej Sekera] mishandled it a little bit, so I got lucky.”
Grabner tallied the game’s first goal 40 seconds into play in the first and notched his second by going top shelf on goaltender Ryan Miller to tie the game at 4 in the second.
Grabner’s success isn’t surprising to linemates Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen, by now. They’ve seen him blow by 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. I’m happy he’s on our team, that’s for sure,” said defenseman Ty Wishart, who scored his first NHL goal on the power play at 12:48 of the third.
With a 5-on-3 power-play in the third, both Milan Jurcina and Wishart converted.
“The guy’s unbelievable,” said goaltender Al Montoya of grabner.
Montoya, who also celebrated his 26th birthday yesterday, made 12 saves in relief to secure a win in his Islanders debut.
The recently-acquired Montoya replaced Mikko Koskinen in the second period just four days after the Islanders received him in a trade for a sixth round pick in this year’s draft.
Blake Comeau tallied a second-period goal in his first game back after missing four with a concussion last week. Comeau’s injury was the impetus for the messy slugfest at Nassau Coliseum Friday night.
John Tavares also scored for the Islanders a deft backhander that beat Ryan Miller at 12:49 of the first.
The Islanders have now strung together three straight wins.
Notes and quotes: Jack Hillen did not play for precautionary reasons.