Snugly straddling the territory between playoff potential and the Taylor Hall Sweepstakes, the Islanders snapped a seven-game losing streak with a gutty 4-3 shootout win over Nashville last night.
For all that has gone awry during the team’s recent skid, the team showed resilience to rally from behind and climb back into the post-season picture.
Defenseman Mark Streit scored a power-play goal with 11.1 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime, slumping rookie John Tavares scored the decisive shootout goal and goaltender Martin Biron finally found that elusive third win after more than a month of not playing.
“It’s nice to finally have that fairy tale ending,” said Tavares, who lifted the puck over Pekka Rinne’s right pad to give the Islanders a 2-1 edge in the shootout.
Frans Nielsen and Tavares scored in the shootout for the Islanders, and while Martin Erat faked out Biron to score on an empty net in the third round, Biron sprawled to stop Patric Hornqvist in the fourth to give the Islanders their first win since January 21st against Florida.
“It felt good,” Biron said. “It’s been awhile.”
In a game designed to showcase Biron to potential suitors, the 32 year-old netminder made 24 stops in his first game since December 27 against Philadelphia.
After the game, Biron, who recently went down to Bridgeport for a two-game tune-up, talked about the difficulty of his plight this season.
Since Rick DiPietro’s return, Biron was relegated to the third goaltender position as the Islanders tried to trade him.
“It’s been a tough situation,” Biron said. “With the freeze coming up and the trade deadline I knew the situation coming in. I knew most likely I’d be a chip for Garth [Snow] to be able to acquire something and give me the chance to continue my season and turn things around.”
All three Islanders goals came from defenseman. Before Streit’s equalizer at 19:48, Freddy Meyer and Bruno Gervais both contributed a goal each.
After a scoreless first period, the two teams notched a pair of goals in the second period.
Registering the first eight shots of the second period, the Islanders took a 1-0 lead on defenseman Freddy Meyer’s second goal of the season, a slapshot that beat Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne five-hole at 5:10.
Cal O’ Reilly scored the equalizer for the Predators minutes later however, as he picked off Frans Nielsen’s clearing attempt and snuck the puck past Biron’s left pad at 10:35.
With the game tied at 1, Joel Ward then tallied the go-ahead goal on a breakaway at 13:51.
Gervais gave the team a spark with less than a minute remaining in the period as he scored the Islanders’ first power-play goal in six games with 56.3 left on the clock.
The Predators answered back with a power-play goal at 4:12 in the third on Steve Sullivan’s one-timer from the left circle that gave Nashville a 3-2 lead, but Streit’s game-tying goal late in the third gave the Islanders momentum and a burst heading into overtime.
Coach Scott Gordon stressed the value of every point as the Islanders approach the Olympic break.
“Every game is important if we want to believe we can make the playoffs.”
**In his NHL debut, Matt Martin had two assists.
*** Captain Doug Weight was a healthy scratch along with Jeff Tambellini
****Biron will not make the Islanders trip to Pittsburgh; he'll stay behind to practice.