DENVER - The Islanders did it again. They rallied to get their game with the Avalanche to overtime and got out of a tough building with two big points Friday night on Michael Grabner's goal 1:46 into OT.
The 2-1 win was the Islanders' sixth in a row away from home and marked the fifth time in their last six wins in which they came from behind.
"The last few road wins, we've found ways to fight back," said Brock Nelson, whose strong effort produced the tying goal 4:28 into the third. "You're down 1-0, all it takes is one shot, one ugly goal to get right back in it."
The Islanders had been turning one-goal deficits into two- and three-goal holes all too regularly earlier this season, especially on the road, where they went 10 straight without a single point through November and early December.
So the breakdowns that led to rookie Nathan MacKinnon's breakaway goal on Kevin Poulin with 1:45 left in the second -- Thomas Hickey failing to get the puck deep on a dump-in, Matt Donovan getting caught in neutral as the speedy MacKinnon blew right past him -- were not welcome, but not game-killers.
"It's a team-wide thing," Hickey said. "Guys are picking each other up. We understand the importance of giving up one and not making it more than that."
The Islanders were a bit too passive in the opening 40 minutes, putting only 16 shots on goaltender Semyon Varlamov.
"Too many backhand drop passes," coach Jack Capuano said. "You give a fast team like that opportunities."
So it was an ugly play that was needed. Nelson got into the Colorado zone and, while on his stomach, swept it into the far corner. Frans Nielsen retrieved it and sent a pass into the slot that ticked off a skate and right to Nelson, back upright and driving the net. His wrist shot beat Varlamov and the Isles were back even.
Poulin held the fort, stoning Cody McLeod midway through the third after Ryan Strome's giveaway. The Islanders had a chance on a two-on-one, but John Tavares was hooked by Gabriel Landeskog to deny even a shot. The Isles' prolific top line was kept silent after scoring 27 goals in the previous six games.
In fact, when Grabner's solo effort produced the winner, it marked the first time since April 11, a span of 52 games, in which the Islanders won while scoring fewer than three goals.
"We played really well in our own zone. We didn't give them much," said Poulin, who finished with 30 saves, including an alert stop on Matt Duchene in OT, when the Avs center batted a puck out of midair and down at Poulin's feet.
Brian Strait saw Grabner just off the bench and threw the puck up the wall to try and spring Grabner for a breakaway. He could not corral a bouncing puck, though, and skated by the slot; once he gathered it and turned, he had plenty of room, aided by Hickey drawing two Avs to the net. Grabner's wrist shot beat Varlamov.
"This is how we have to play -- up or down, we didn't change," Grabner said. "In the beginning of the year, maybe we let other teams get to us a little bit when they scored. We're finding ways to win games, and that's what we need."