With one Jonathan Marchessault goal, a 2-1 Islanders lead vanished. But Ryan Pulock and New York responded with persistence and perseverance, escaping with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday, Dec. 5 at NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Pulock recorded the game-winning goal 3:20 into the extra period after Marchessault took a costly penalty. That goal concluded a complete, well-rounded game that the Islanders have patoned this season.
“We played Islanders hockey,” said Islanders head coach Barry Trotz. “We ran four lines. We kept coming at them, stayed on the puck and won our battles.
The Islanders improved to 12-2-1 on home ice and continued an impressive early season slate. Now 19-6-2 overall, the Islanders have earned points in 20 out of their last 23 games, good for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
The scoring got started late in this one. In the second period, Cal Clutterbuck took the puck from Nicolas Hague and bolted down the ice. With Casey Cizikas dashing towards the net, Clutterbuck elected to shoot and went bardown to give New York a 1-0 lead.
“Cal Clutterbuck has a sneaky quick release,” said Islanders personality Jake “Bathtub Jake” Basile. “It was a great decision wiring the puck up high.”
Alex Tuch did his best Clutterbuck-impression just a few minutes later. He ripped a shot under the bar and past Semyon Varlamov to tie the game going into the third period.
While the score was even, the pace of play was not. The Islanders were winning the shot total 25-21 and controlled possession most of the game. Brock Nelson kept up the intensity and gave New York a 2-1 lead early in the third period.
“Brock Nelson is picking up right where he left off last season,” Basile said. “His two-way game is elite and he has led the Islanders this year.”
Marchessault’s ninth goal of the season sent the game to overtime, but it was the last shot to get past Varlamov. He made 31 saves on the night for his ninth win of the season.
Behind Varlamov and a balanced attack, the Islanders snapped a Golden Knights four-game winning streak and sent them on a sad flight back to Las Vegas.
“I liked our game,” Trotz said. “It was two very good teams that went nose-to-nose. It was fast and physical.”
The Islanders now embark on a road trip, starting with a Texas showdown in Dallas against the Stars on Saturday, Dec. 7. New York will look to continue their sensational start to the season during their next three games away from home.
“Every player was fantastic against Vegas,” said Drive 4 Five writer Melissa Contino. “The Islanders have a long road trip ahead of them, but I think this momentum will carry over.”