UNIONDALE, N.Y. – The New York Islanders made themselves right at home after a long road trip.
Dwayne Roloson made 17 of his 30 saves in the third period to help force overtime and Frans Nielsen scored on a breakaway 24 seconds into the extra period to give the Islanders a 3-2 victory over Boston on Saturday night, snapping a three-game losing streak.
“I had to plug it into the GPS to find my way to the rink today,” Roloson said.
The Islanders (12-13-7) played 20 of their first 31 on the road. That included 14 of the previous 17, a span in which they went 6-9-2. They dropped four of five on the last trip, getting outscored 13-4 in losing the final three.
But the Boston game began a stretch of eight of 10 at home, and the two road games are nearby against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Overall, nine of the Islanders’ next 12 are at home.
“It could be our season right now,” Nielsen said. “We’ve got to get back into this playoff race now. It’s huge. We’ve got to be strong at home if we want to play longer than mid-April.”
Matt Moulson had a goal and an assist for the Islanders, while Rob Schremp scored his first NHL goal and Kyle Okposo assisted twice. The Bruins (16-9-6), who got a goal and assist each from David Krejci and Michael Ryder, had won two straight and were 8-1-1 in their previous 10.
In the two teams’ previous two meetings in Boston, the Bruins also had their hands full with the Islanders, having to rally from three goals down to win 4-3 in a shootout on Oct. 10 and then falling 4-1 on Nov. 16.
“It’s probably a little bit of payback for the first game where we felt we deserved the two points,” Islanders coach Scott Gordon said.
After a turnover in the Islanders’ end in overtime, Mark Streit sent the puck to Blake Comeau, and Comeau sent Nielsen in alone on goalie Tim Thomas.
“I saw he was toe-picking backwards,” Nielsen said. “He was losing his balance quick, so I just decided to get on my backhand quick. I had a lot of net there.”
Nielsen had gone 15 straight games without a goal and had scored just three for the season, but he didn’t miss this one from the right doorstep and then was mobbed in the right corner by his teammates.
“That’s the best,” Nielsen said. “That was fun. I haven’t been scoring in a while. So it’s nice to get one and hopefully build some more confidence.”
Boston outshot the Islanders 17-3 in the third period, but Roloson kept getting in the way, stopping every shot, including a nice glove save against Mark Recchi on a Bruins power play, to keep it a scoreless 20 minutes. The Bruins outshot the Islanders 32-19 overall.
“We had so many chances,” Krejci said. “We put the puck on the net. … We just couldn’t get any in the net. One bad break in overtime and it ended up in our end.”
The Islanders struck just 3:58 into the game against the Bruins, who arrived with the NHL’s No. 1 ranked penalty-killing unit after fending off the previous 16 power plays.
But after Boston was penalized for having too many men on the ice, Moulson got stopped in front by Thomas, and the puck deflected to Schremp behind the goal line at the right side of the net. Schremp banked it in off Thomas’ right skate for a 1-0 lead.
Ryder tied it with 5:37 left in the period. Krejci carried the puck into the Islanders’ zone and fed Ryder near the top of the right circle, and Ryder fired a wrist shot past the glove of Roloson.
Then Marco Sturm beat Roloson when he swatted the puck out of the air with 1:41 to go until the first intermission, but the goal was immediately waved off because it was scored with a high stick, something a video review confirmed.
Sturm did set up the go-ahead goal approaching the midpoint of the second period, collecting a loose puck along the left-wing boards in the Islanders’ zone, then cruising through the left circle before centring to Krejci for the goal.
John Tavares, however, backhanded the puck from behind the Bruins’ net to Moulson in front, and the left wing scored his 15th to tie it at 2-2 with 5:18 remaining in the second. And Nielsen finally ended it.
“We found a way,” Gordon said. “Fransie came up big.”
NOTES: Islanders defenceman Andy Sutton had hoped to return after missing for four games with a groin injury, but he was scratched. Forwards Sean Bergenheim (ribs) and Tim Jackman (hip) also sat out. … Bruins left wing Milan Lucic missed his seventh straight game because of a high left ankle sprain.