UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Nazem Kadri was remarkably calm for a player who scored his first career hat trick. He was more excited that the Maple Leafs forged an overtime win on the road.
The 22-year-old centre scored his sixth, seven and eighth goals of the season before captain Dion Phaneuf tallied at 1:11 of overtime to give Toronto a 5-4 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.
Phaneuf’s fourth goal of the season lifted Toronto to its third straight win and fourth in five games at New York. The Maple Leafs have six wins in their last nine games against the Islanders. James van Riemsdyk also scored for the Maple Leafs, who improved to 9-4 on the road after losing at home to Montreal on Wednesday night.
“I did the best I could and it felt great to help the team win,” said Kadri, who leads the Leafs with 21 points. “That was a huge second point for us to get.”
New York rallied on third-period goals by Andrew MacDonald and Kyle Okposo after Kadri finished his hat trick to put Toronto up 4-2 at the 14:12 mark of the second. The Islanders also got goals from Josh Bailey in the first period and Lubomir Visnovsky in the second.
The Islanders finally recorded a point at home after losing their first two contests on the current seven-game homestand. They have just five points in 11 home games in which they are a league-worst 2-8-1.
Kadri—Toronto’s first-round pick in 2009—scored at 8:31 of the first period to tie the game at 1. He scored to tie it again midway through the second two minutes after defenceman Visnovsky gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead.
Van Riemsdyk broke the tie with his team-leading 12th goal at 10:25 of the second before Kadri made it 4-2. That made Kadri the first Toronto player to record a hat trick at Nassau Coliseum since Paul Henderson did it on Feb. 20, 1974.
“There’s no question he is a gifted player,” Phaneuf said of Kadri. “I’m happy for him and I’m happy for us because we stuck with our game plan and kept battling after the Islanders tied it. This was a big bounce-back game for us.”
Bailey, Visnovsky and MacDonald all scored their first goals of the season for the Islanders. Bailey opened the scoring on the first shot by the Islanders at 3:34 of the first period. Okposo did the work along the left boards, sidestepping a Leafs defenceman and backhanding a pass to Bailey in the slot.
Bailey beat James Reimer in a rare productive moment from a combination other than John Tavares and Matt Moulson, who have combined for a league-leading 23 goals.
Visnovsky scored his first goal as an Islander at 6:22 of the second with a slap shot from the right point that flew over Reimer’s right shoulder.
MacDonald made it 4-3 with his first of the season on a one-timer at 5:31 of the third, before Okposo scored an unassisted goal on a wrist shot at 10:08 to the tie the game at 4. It was the second goal of the season for Okposo, who added two assists.
Islanders coach Jack Capuano continued to look for reasons to be optimistic for this team, which fell to 8-11-2 on the season.
“Every day is part of a process for us,” Capuano said. “We have to play a certain style to be successful. We have to grind teams down. That is what we have to continue to work at.”
Reimer (7-3-0) was making his first start since Feb. 11 after missing eight games with a knee injury. Ben Scrivens had made the last eight starts for Toronto, which improved to 13-9-0.
“This was a big win and we have to build on this one,” said Reimer, who made 23 saves.
Kadri’s first goal came on a slick move. The speedy centre skated down the left wing and held the puck as he shifted to the middle of the slot, then whipped the puck past Evgeni Nabokov.
His second came from the top of slot on a shot that appeared screen Nabokov. The hat trick was completed as Kadri fell to the left of Nabokov. The achievement generated a smattering of blue and white Leafs hats tossed onto the ice.
“Dion (Phaneuf) grabbed the hat trick puck for me so I’m really excited to have that,” said Kadri, whose previous hat trick came when he played for the junior London Knights. “I have high expectations for myself so this is a proud moment for me.”
Islanders winger Michael Grabner hit the post on a rush off the opening faceoff of overtime.
Grabner also was awarded a penalty shot at the 15:56 mark of the first when he was pulled down by Phil Kessel. Grabner missed the net on his second penalty shot try this season. He also was denied by New Jersey’s Johan Hedberg on Feb. 3.
NOTES: Kadri has 16 goals in 73 NHL games. … Toronto has a rare three-day break before the team’s next game on Monday at home against New Jersey. … The Islanders won the previous meeting between the teams, 7-4 in Toronto on Jan. 24. The Islanders and Maple Leafs conclude the season series April 18 at Air Canada Centre. … Nabokov has started all but four Islanders games this season. He finished with 23 saves.