Isles end skid with epic shootout win
Leddy’s Game-Winner Secures New York’s First Road Victory
Round after round, shot after shot, Thomas Greiss stood his ground.
The Islanders’ goaltender made 39 saves in regulation and overtime and another 10 during a marathon shootout Tuesday night at Anaheim’s Honda Center, notching a well-deserved win when defenseman Nick Leddy scored in the 14th round of the NHL’s game-deciding skills competition to give New York a much-needed 3-2 triumph over the Ducks.
“It was long,” Greiss readily admitted after helping the Islanders snap a season-high four-game losing streak and notch their first road win in six tries this year.
“You’re just hoping someone gets a goal,” added Greiss, who sat behind starter Jaroslav Halak for seven straight games since surrendering three goals on 11 shots in an eventual 6-1 loss to Tampa Bay at Barclays Center on Nov. 1.
The longest shootout in the history of either franchise would not have even begun if Greiss hadn’t stopped seven Anaheim shots in overtime.
The extra session saw the Ducks consistently pound the Isles’ netminder while New York managed just one attempt on Jonathan Bernier, who finished with 33 saves, plus nine more in the shootout round.
“A lot of guys play to their personalities,” New York coach Jack Capuano said of Greiss. “And he’s calm and poised in the net and he battles hard.”
Both Capuano and general manager Garth Snow have felt the heat in the past few weeks as the Isles (6-8-4, 16 points) continued to stumble their way through the early portion of the schedule.
While both have received a vote of confidence from the new ownership group of Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin, another brutal loss could have complicated matters during this ongoing three-game western swing.
Fortunately, Leddy’s clincher came after the blueliner deked to his left and roofed a shot over Bernier’s right shoulder, allowing Greiss to take a deep sigh of relief as the Isles got a brief reprieve from their struggles.
“It’s not too tiring,” Greiss said of standing in net as the shootout unfolded. “You focus on the guy, figure out what you’re going to do, and worry about that.”
Team captain John Tavares, Ryan Strome, Nikolay Kulemin and Thomas Hickey (via confirmation on video review) also scored for New York in the shootout, setting the Isles up for a Thanksgiving Eve visit to Los Angeles.
But this win stopped the bleeding for an Isles team which still owns the least points in the Eastern Conference.
“We needed the point so badly,” noted Hickey. “It was a big step against a good hockey team on the road, and hopefully we can string something together there.”
Adam Pelech and Josh Bailey both scored in the opening period for New York, which hadn’t tasted victory since a 4-2 triumph over Vancouver in Downtown Brooklyn on Nov. 7.
In the four losses that followed, including two via overtime, the Isles had managed two goals or fewer.
That trend continued Tuesday night, but Greiss stood tall enough in net to let New York outlast Anaheim in the shootout.
“He’s such a calm presence back there, even in the shootout,” Hickey said of Greiss, who went 23-11-4 last year before helping the Isles post their first postseason series win since 1993.
“It’s funny watching him play sometimes,” Hickey added. “He’s like an old school, stand-up goalie. He’s just comfortable in there and it rubs off on everyone else, and that was big today.”
It will be even bigger if Greiss and the Isles find their way back to Brooklyn next Monday night with a couple of more wins out West.
After visiting the Kings on Wednesday, the Isles were slated to take on San Jose at 4 p.m. Friday.
Isle Have Another: The NHL’s longest shootout ever was a 20-rounder back on Dec. 17, 2014, when Florida outlasted Washington. The five shootout goals were the most in the history of the Islanders. … Pelech’s goal was the first of his NHL career, and tied the contest at 1-1. “Even right when it happened, none of us were sure. I just went into the celebration,” the 22-year-old defenseman said. “I’m glad I got the first one, and it’s even better that we won tonight.” … Cal Clutterbuck left the game in the third period with what the team is calling an upper-body injury. … Tavares had an assist on Bailey’s first-period goal, giving him at least one point in eight of his last 10 games.
Matt Farrell and Steve Vasturia scored 18 points apiece Tuesday night at Downtown’s Barclays Center, pacing Notre Dame to a 70-66 victory over Northwestern in the championship game of the Legends Classic.
It was the Irish’s first visit here since they won a couple of NCAA Tournament games at Barclays last March during their run to the Elite Eight.
“We got karma [here in Brooklyn],” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.
The Irish will be back on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues for the ACC Tournament.
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