UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Three goals from defencemen and a suddenly potent power play gave the New York Islanders what they needed to snap a season-high, seven-game losing streak.
Mark Streit scored the tying goal in the closing seconds of regulation, and Frans Nielsen and John Tavares connected in the tiebreaker to help the Islanders rally for a 4-3 victory over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.
“The way things have been going lately, you realize that this was big,” said third-string goalie Martin Biron, who earned his first win since Nov. 13. “This was something that can maybe switch momentum on our side.”
Streit rescued a point for the Islanders with a rare power-play goal, scored with only 11.4 seconds to go. New York, which hadn’t scored during a man advantage the previous five games, connected twice in six chances against Nashville.
Biron made the most of his first NHL game in over a month by making 24 saves through overtime and three more in the shootout. Only Martin Erat scored for Nashville during the tiebreaker.
“It felt good,” Biron said. “It’s been a while and it was one of those games where I was trying to get myself in a rhythm and was battling a little bit. The guys definitely came through with some big plays at key points.”
It was Erat’s boarding penalty on defenceman Andrew MacDonald in the final minute that gave the Islanders the power play that produced the tying goal.
“It feels like you just scored the overtime game-winner in the playoffs. Everyone is jumping,” Biron said.
The Islanders put constant pressure on the Predators in the closing minutes of regulation, and gained a 6-on-4 skating advantage when Erat went off after New York pulled Biron.
“We shouldn’t have taken that,” Predators captain Jason Arnott said. “It wasn’t like a tripping penalty going to the net. It was just one of those things that you’ve got to just think about and not do it.”
New York hadn’t earned a standings point since a shootout win against Florida on Jan. 21.
Steve Sullivan’s power-play goal early in the third had given Nashville a 3-2 lead.
After New York killed off the first half of a brief two-man advantage, Sullivan took a cross-zone pass from Erat and whistled a one-timer from the left circle at 4:12 to make it 3-2.
Nashville dropped its fifth straight on the road at the start of a four-game trip that will take the Predators into the Olympic break.
“We just took too many penalties and it cost us the game,” Arnott said. “It’s tough that way, but I thought the guys played a solid road game. It was ours to win, but we let it slip away.”
Cal O’Reilly and Joel Ward scored in the second period, and Pekka Rinne made 29 saves for the Predators, 2-1-2 following a five-game losing streak.
Biron was good enough in his first Islanders appearance since Dec. 27. Defencemen Freddy Meyer and Bruno Gervais also had goals for the Islanders, outscored 30-12 the past eight games.
New York forged a 2-2 tie before the second period ended by converting on a long 5-on-3 power play. The Islanders, who own the NHL’s worst home power-play percentage, cashed in when Gervais took a pass from Matt Martin and scored with 56.3 seconds left.
Martin, recalled from Bridgeport of the AHL on Monday, earned assists on New York’s final two goals in his first NHL game. Gervais’ goal snapped the Islanders’ 0 for 24 power-play drought. They have 16 man-advantage goals at home in 106 chances.
“Early on I had some butterflies, but as soon as you get the rhythm of the game, it’s the same game, it’s just a little quicker,” Martin said.
After recording only three shots in the first period, the Islanders took a 1-0 lead 5:10 into the second on Meyer’s second of the season.
Nashville appeared to tie it about three minutes later when Patric Hornqvist put in a rebound of Arnott’s shot. Biron immediately complained to the officials, swinging his leg in the air to indicate that Hornqvist kicked in the puck. Following a brief video review, referee Frederick L’Ecuyer waved off the goal.
Biron’s good fortune didn’t last long.
J.P. Dumont’s hard shot bounced in the air off the goalie and landed in front. Islanders forward Frans Nielsen tried to clear the puck, but instead swept it onto O’Reilly’s stick for the centre’s first of the season and fourth in 20 NHL games.
The Predators needed only 2:16 to go ahead 2-1 when Joel Ward scored a breakaway goal.
NOTES: Sullivan has eight goals and 11 assists in 16 games vs. New York. … The Islanders entered with the NHL’s second-worst power-play unit. … The Predators are 4-1-1 on Long Island. … Tavares, the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft, has two goals and five assists the past 28 games.