WINNIPEG, Manitoba — There are no style points in the final quarter of the season, just standings points. This is something the Islanders have taken full advantage of as they closed out their swing through the Western Conference with a downright wacky, 4-3 overtime win over the Jets. It was their fifth win in six games on their seven-game road trip.
Kyle Okposo scored the winner 2:20 into OT, sweeping in a rebound after Frans Nielsen’s shot deflected up and caught Jets rookie Nikolaj Ehlers in the face, cracking his visor. The game ended in total silence as the Isles cautiously celebrated while Ehlers lay face down next to his own goal.
“You take them any way you can get them now,” Okposo said. “I got a lucky bounce off Ehlers’ face.”
The Islanders were half a minute away from getting no points out of another uneven performance when Anders Lee tipped Nick Leddy’s one-timer past Michael Hutchinson, tying the score at 3 with 28.3 seconds to go.
Mark Scheifele’s second of the night with 2:03 left in regulation put the Jets up by a goal, seemingly putting an ugly finishing touch on the Western Canada part of their road swing. The Isles were outshot 15-6 in the opening period and didn’t fully awaken until new acquisition Shane Prince snapped one past Hutchinson at 8:31 of the third to snap a 1-1 tie, though that Islanders’ lead lasted just 85 seconds.
“Yeah, we definitely don’t get style points tonight,” said Nielsen, whose drop pass for Leddy got the tying goal going. “We talked about it a lot. Here, in Vancouver [on Tuesday], we’re not playing our best so we have to be good defensively and we just have to find a way.”
That 3-2 win over the Canucks two nights earlier featured two goals off Vancouver defensemen and a winner in the third that skipped off the ice and in. Luck played a role in the OT winner here on Thursday but the rest was more effort and pushing through the final night of a 10-day jaunt through three time zones.
“When you’re in the East and you’re not used to this, it can be a little tiring,” Okposo said.
The Isles definitely were banged up after this one. Prince took a wicked slash from Dustin Byfuglien as he got his shot off, needing a big ice wrap on his wrist. Leddy fell awkwardly in the third and missed a shift, holding his right shoulder; he appeared to have a hard time reaching for pucks on the late shift when Scheifele gave Winnipeg a lead.
And Matt Martin went off following the end of regulation after appearing to hurt his shoulder diving to break up a play at the horn. The Isles won for the fifth time in the six games of a road trip that began two weeks ago in New Jersey and ends on Sunday in Madison Square Garden, with the Isles three points back of the second-place Rangers with two games in hand.
“You just have to find ways to win,” Jack Capuano said. “It’s not always going to be pretty and sexy. Just find a way.”