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Islanders hold on to beat the Leafs

Islanders celebrate a second period goal against the Leafs.
Islanders celebrate a second period goal against the Leafs.
Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images

On January 7th, 2014 the New York Islanders started a six game road schedule against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. With Evgeni Nabokov out with a lower body injury, Kevin Poulin would defend between the pipes for the Isles.

The first period would see only two goals coming from the Leafs at 5:05 and from the Islanders at 19:16. Kyle Okposo would center a pass and score off of a long range shot to tie the game.

The first goal in the second period would come from a Jonathan Bernier error that Michael Grabner would capitalize on. The Islanders would clear the puck with Grabner all alone and in pursuit. Bernier would come out of the goal to play the puck only to back off as the puck was outside the trapezoid. Grabner would close in to take the puck and wrap around for the score before Bernier could get back and close in on the post. The Leafs would tie the game only five minutes later with a power-play goal from a Travis Hamonic hooking penalty.

Only two minutes into period three would the Leafs receive a goaltender interference penalty giving the Islanders the man-advantage. Okposo would skate down the left passing to John Tavares in the center. Tavares would lose control of the puck but Thomas Vanek would regain control, firing a quick shot that would be blocked. Frans Nielsen would be in the right place at the right time, receiving the rebound and finding the back of the net.

Not but a little over two minutes later would Calvin de Haan receive his first NHL goal. Tavares would win a neutral zone face-off and slide the puck to de Haan approaching the blue line. De Haan would put the puck on net and get a bounce that would get past Bernier for the 4-2 lead.

One of the Islanders biggest issues has been their inability to hold a two goal lead in the third. After a Leafs goal with a little over three minutes to go, the Islanders would have to do just that and hold on for the win. With about a minute to go the Leafs would pull their goaltender for the man-advantage. After a few blocked shots by Kevin Poulin, the Leafs would swing the puck up top for another try. Grabner would position himself perfectly to block the shot and get the puck to Cal Clutterbuck who would race down the ice and score on the empty net with only nine second remaining in the game. Islanders would record their 6th win out of the past 7 games and start their road schedule with positive momentum, beating the Leafs 5-3.

The Islanders take a break until Friday where they will travel to the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado to face the Colorado Avalanche. Puck will drop at 9:00 pm EST.