The Islanders had blown a three-goal third-period lead in their previous game as their 10-game winning streak was snapped. They knew they needed to show more resiliency in Saturday’s matinee at Barclays Center after the Panthers tied the score in the third period.
“Our response after that goal, that told me a lot about this group,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said.
Defenseman Scott Mayfield scored to regain the lead 38 seconds later and the Islanders, thanks to a brilliant 37-save effort by Thomas Greiss, extended their point streak to 11-0-1 with a 2-1 victory.
The Islanders had lost to the Penguins, 4-3, in overtime on Thursday to end the second-longest winning streak in team history.
“It was a nice response by our team,” said center Mathew Barzal, who scored his team-leading seventh goal, took a team-high five shots and played 5:25 out of a possible six minutes on the Islanders’ 0-for-3 power play. “We had the lead going into the third period. We know we didn’t want to lose it there. They got one back on the power play and we got one on the next shift. That shift after a goal is huge.”
Alexsander Barkov’s power-play goal at 6:12 of the third period tied the score at 1-1. But Mayfield threw the puck on net from the right and it bounced off Brian Boyle and defenseman Anton Stralman and past Sergei Bobrovsky for the winner at 6:50.
Barkov had an apparent second power-play goal waved off at 14:35 of the third period because he backhanded the puck with a high stick.
Barzal, showing patience as he moved across the crease and lifted a backhander, had given the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 5:40 of the first period, seconds after the Islanders’ first power play expired.
The Islanders (12-3-1) had Jordan Eberle back in the lineup after the top-line right wing missed 10 games. He hurt his right leg in a 3-2 shootout win over the Panthers on Oct. 12 at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum that started this 12-game point streak.
Defenseman Nick Leddy also returned after sitting out three games with a lower-body issue.
But sparkplug center Casey Cizikas did not play in the third period after taking a shot off his left knee in the first period.
“You look at the end of the game, just the commitment level, it’s high everywhere,” said Eberle, who logged 14:47 with four shots. “Blocking shots, holding pucks in the corners for 15, 20 seconds. That’s the commitment level we have as a team and that’s how we won last year and that’s how we’re winning this year.”
Eberle also contributed one of the best saves of the game. Certainly, he agreed, the best save of his career.
Evgenii Dadonov rocketed a shot off the crossbar and Eberle, positioning himself behind Greiss, got low and used his chest to stop Brett Connolly’s close-range attempt at 11:45 of the second period.
“Just kind of in my head I was saying, ‘There’s no way we’re losing this game’ my first one back,’” Eberle said.
“Not too many times you want your right winger behind your goalie but, in that case, that was a really good position by him,” Trotz added. “That’s sort of the strength of this group. This group understands there’s going to be things that break down when you’re playing against top players in the world. That’s when you need those second efforts, that commitment.”