Doug Weight was shooting for the Islanders to post nine or 10 points in this stretch of six games in nine nights. But with the second game winding down, it looked as if the coach would have to aim lower.
After losing in Buffalo on Thursday night, the Isles were trailing Detroit by three goals Friday night at Barclays Center when Tyler Bertuzzi took a five-minute slashing penalty with 6:33 left in regulation.
Welcome to the start of a miraculous comeback.
The Islanders’ power play produced four goals in 3:37 for the lead, but the Red Wings tied it with 29 seconds left. No matter. In overtime, Brock Nelson scored his third goal of the game on Mathew Barzal’s fifth assist to give the Isles a stunning 7-6 win.
“That was a wild one for sure,” Nelson said. “I can’t remember being a part of a game like that.”
The winner came off a two-on-one. Barzal led Nelson perfectly for the goal that beat Petr Mrazek with 1:45 left in the extra session. The two points allowed the Isles to jump over Columbus and take hold of the second wild card.
“The standings are so tight,” Nelson said. “We need all the points we can get.”
The Islanders wouldn’t have gotten these two without Bertuzzi slashing Cal Clutterbuck to light the spark.
“Clutter is obviously a guy that gets under people’s skin,” Barzal said. “ . . . As soon as we got that five-minute call, I think everyone’s energy level kind of jumped up a little bit.”
Nelson deflected in a shot with 5:26 left. The penalty kept on giving when Anders Lee scored on a rebound to cut the deficit to 5-4 with 4:32 to play.
Then Nick Leddy scored with 3:21 left and Josh Bailey scored from the right circle with 1:49 remaining. Amazingly, 5-2 Detroit had turned into 6-5 Islanders.
There were 11,847 in the stands, and the crowd filled the building with the loud sound of joy after each goal. “It was a pretty incredible display of a power play,” Weight said.
But Mike Green countered, beating Jaroslav Halak to send it to OT. The Islanders, though, ended up enjoying the roller-coaster ride the most.
“Those type of crazy things happen a little bit when you’re in the American League,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said, “but at the NHL level, it’s as crazy as I’ve seen.”
The game began so badly for the Islanders. Anthony Mantha, Martin Frk and Henrik Zetterberg scored against Thomas Greiss in the first period. Boos spilled from the stands. “It was obviously frustrating for the fans, and it was frustrating for us,” Weight said.
The Isles began their first comeback in the second when Jordan Eberle scored after Barzal knocked down a clearing attempt. Nelson made it a one-goal deficit on a deflection 3:02 into the third.
Greiss, though, gave up a bad goal at 7:42 when Frans Nielsen’s shot got through him and Darren Helm tapped in the puck. When Greiss gave up a power-play goal by Mantha 2:12 later, it was 5-2 and Halak took over in goal.
But the fun was just beginning. The Islanders, who were 1-3-1 in their previous five, would love to see this jump-start them for a big run. “Hopefully, this pushes us in the right direction,” Barzal said. “This team needed something like that. We needed a big comeback or a big game like that, a big win.”