NEWARK — Some players the Islanders need to score more are scoring more. The balanced scoring they’ve been seeking was there.
“We want to make sure all four lines contribute as much as possible and today was a good night for the whole team,” said third-liner Tom Kuhnhackl, whose late third-period equalizer forced overtime.
The chances went back and forth in overtime. But it was captain Anders Lee’s shot from the slot with 50.7 seconds remaining in the OT that finally clinched a 4-3 win over the Devils on Tuesday night at Prudential Center.
Three of the Islanders’ four lines scored a goal. Lee scored for the second straight night after going five games without a goal and top-six linemate Jordan Eberle had his first goal in 11 games.
The Islanders (27-12-3) swept a back-to-back after topping the Avalanche, 1-0, on Monday night at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum and completed a grueling stretch of seven games in 12 days at 4-3-0. They exceeded two goals for just the third time in their last eight games.
“I think we played a good game, especially with the back-to-back,” said goalie Thomas Greiss, who made 32 saves, including denying defenseman Sami Vatanen on a three-on-one rush in overtime. “We had energy. We pressed a lot and had a lot of shots on net and good looks. Mental toughness is a big part of it.”
It was Greiss’ first start since being pulled from a 5-2 loss at Chicago on Dec. 27 after Semyon Varlamov had started a season-high five straight games. It was his first win since a 32-save effort in a 3-1 victory at Florida on Dec. 12.
“He’s played a lot of good games and, in a few games, it hasn’t gone his way,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “It was real big for him. He gave us a chance to win. He made a couple of big saves when we left him all alone. I think it’s good for his psyche for sure.”
“He’s great, this guy,” Lee added. “He’s calm, cool, collected and nothing fazes him. It doesn’t matter if he’s going every night, or every other night. He’s ready to go.”
Mackenzie Blackwood, who lost at least one tooth on a high shot from defenseman Ryan Pulock late in the second period, stopped 37 shots for the Devils (15-20-7), who beat the Islanders, 2-1, on Thursday at the Coliseum.
The game’s only penalty didn’t come until Greiss hooked Nikita Gusev skating behind his crease at 11:36 of the third period. That turned into Kyle Palmieri’s power-play goal to give the Devils a 3-2 lead at 11:55 after the Islanders’ penalty kill had gone 13-for-13 over the previous six games.
But Kuhnhackl was able to tie the score at 3-3 at 14:14 from the right point after Michael Dal Colle forced a turnover along the right wall.
Both teams yielded skating space in the first period, which ended with the Islanders up 2-1.
Casey Cizikas, getting to the crease and knocking in the rebound of Matt Martin’s initial shot, gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 3:38.
But just as he did in the Devils’ win on Thursday, P.K. Subban tied the game at 1-1 with a hard blast from the right at 8:37. This time, though, the Islanders quickly regained the lead as Eberle, with his fourth goal of the season, connected from the slot after defenseman Damon Severson’s turnover.
Nico Hischier, who also scored at the Coliseum, tied the game at 2-2 at 18:24 of the second period as he lifted a backhander from the slot after skating around Mathew Barzal.