New York Islanders' Johnny Boychuk, Ryan Strome, John Tavares, Frans...

New York Islanders' Johnny Boychuk, Ryan Strome, John Tavares, Frans Nielsen and Anders Lee celebrate Nielsen's goal against the Winnipeg Jets and Adam Pardy during first-period NHL action in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014. Credit: AP / John Woods

About the only difference between Wednesday night's Islanders game and the previous two was how the Isles responded when a couple of goals were scored against them.

They produced a positive response each time the Jets pulled within a goal, and it was delivered by the recently formed Anders Lee-Frans Nielsen-Ryan Strome line.

After handing away a pair of three-goal third-period leads in the two previous games, the Islanders made sure to turn their play up a notch and keep the Jets at bay in a 5-2 win that kicked off a seven-game road trip.

"I liked the way we controlled the game, especially five-on-five," said Nielsen, who scored twice and had an assist on Lee's huge goal at 11:35 of the third to make it 4-2. "There was no panic at any point."

Instead, there were a few timely saves among Jaroslav Halak's 21 stops and a few fortunate bounces around the Jets' net to send the Isles to a season-high 14 games over .500 (25-11-1). They share the Metro Division lead with the Penguins at 51 points.

Andrew Ladd scored from the high slot on a Jets power play 47 seconds into the third period to cut the Islanders' lead to 3-2, but Winnipeg got no closer. And Lee and Strome, who crashed the net to get a strange-bounce goal that opened the scoring in the first, did the same to grab the two-goal lead back.

After Ondrej Pavelec turned aside Strome's shot from long range, the two young Isles forced a turnover behind the net. Strome's shot from in tight bounced off a couple bodies to Lee, who used his good hands to roof a shot and give the Isles a needed cushion. The assist was Strome's fourth point of the night, a career high.

"It's gratifying as a coaching staff to see that," Jack Capuano said of two of his least experienced players going to the net. "Ryan's a skilled guy, but there are lots of skilled guys who don't perform in this league because they don't go to those hard areas or improve their play without the puck. He's done that."

The Isles didn't extend their lead to the dreaded three-goal mark until Josh Bailey's power-play goal into an empty net sealed it with 31.1 seconds to go.

Dustin Byfuglien, who helped the Isles out with a goaltender-interference penalty with 6:06 left, again helped them by taking an unsportsmanlike-conduct minor with 1:33 left for jawing too long with referee Brian Pochmara.

On this night, the Isles didn't really need the help. Capuano noted that his team held the lead Wednesday night despite giving up more chances in the third period than it had in either game in which it blew the three-goal lead.

"They essentially got two power-play goals [one came right after a power play ended], but we played a real good game tonight. We didn't give them much," Capuano said.

The Islanders ring in 2015 with their best half-season in three decades (the 1983-84 team was 26-11-2), owing much to their ability to bounce back.

The 4-3 shootout loss in Buffalo on Saturday was painful. The 4-3 overtime win over the Capitals on Monday was a crisis averted. And no crisis developed Wednesday night. Even with those two giveaways, the Isles are on a 6-1-1 run entering Friday's game in Calgary.

"We didn't want to give up that early goal in the third, but we didn't crack," said Halak, who earned his 20th victory of the season. "We kept playing our way and the guys did a great job."

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