WINNIPEG – The New York Islanders may be near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, but they’re starting to show signs of life when they’re not on Long Island.
P.A. Parenteau scored in regulation and added the shootout winner as the Islanders beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 at the MTS Centre on Tuesday, the team’s fifth win in its last seven road games.
“We’ve got to keep playing like that on the road,” Parenteau said. “It was a tough building to play in, we have a lot of young players and I think we showed a lot of character tonight.”
The Islanders (11-14-6) woundn’t have needed a shootout to earn the two points if not for Winnipeg goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. New York had many more scoring chances than the Jets (15-13-5), but Pavelec made a number of acrobatic saves to keep his team in the game.
“You can’t see it like that,” Parenteau said, when asked if the team felt as though it should have won in regulation. “It’s going to happen. Pavelec’s a really good goalie, he made some good, solid saves. But we stuck with it in overtime and the shootout.”
Parenteau beat Pavelec’s glove hand with a snap shot in the shootout, and Frans Nielsen ended it with deke to his backhand. Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov stopped Blake Wheeler and Kyle Wellwood on their attempts, and turned away all 19 shots he faced in regulation and overtime.
Nabokov replaced starter Al Montoya late in the second period after a collision with Evander Kane forced Montoya to leave the game. Kane was given a penalty for goaltender interference despite arguing that defenceman Milan Jurcina pushed him into Montoya.
“Nabby came in in the third and did a great job,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “Nabby did a great job in the shootout for us as well. For us tonight, the way our team is, we have to have all 20 guys playing and tonight we had that. We didn’t have any passengers.”
Pavelec, who stopped 31 of the 33 shots he faced, said he felt strong in the net.
“It’s my job to make some saves,” he said. “It was frustration to see our guys in their zone just throwing the pucks away. We didn’t (get) traffic in front.”
The Jets finished with 38 shots, but few amounted to good scoring chances.
“Right now when I look at our team play, we don’t have the chemistry that we had before,” said Jets coach Claude Noel, whose team lost for the second time in its last three home games. “It doesn’t seem to be the cohesiveness that we’re looking for that we had before.”
The Jets would have moved into a tie with Ottawa and Toronto for seventh place in the log-jammed Eastern Conference with a win, but instead are in a ninth-place tie with Washington and Buffalo.
Parenteau and Michael Grabner gave the Islanders a pair of one-goal leads in the first two periods, but Nik Antropov and Andrew Ladd responded for the Jets.
The Islanders had the game’s only two power plays—including one that came with four minutes remaining—but couldn’t score on either attempt.
New York dominated the game early, generating a handful of good scoring chances before Parenteau one-timed a Matt Moulson pass into a wide-open net to make it 1-0.
The sluggish Jets tied it with two minutes left in the first period when Antropov redirected a Johnny Oduya point shot past Montoya.
Grabner, a former member of the Manitoba Moose, was in the right place at the right time when he jumped on a loose puck in the crease to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead in the second period.
Ladd had the Jets’ reply near the midpoint of the period with a long wrist shot that beat Montoya high to the glove side.
The Jets finish their six-game home stand with games against Montreal on Thursday and Pittsburgh on Friday. The Islanders face the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.
Notes: Forward Antti Miettinen played his first game for the Jets since he was claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay on Dec. 13…Jets centre Bryan Little missed his first game of the season after taking a shot off the foot on Saturday…Forward Brian Rolston and defenceman Steve Staios were both out of the Islanders lineup after suffering concussions in the last week…Islanders defenceman David Ullstrom left the game after crashing back-firstinto the boards during overtime.