Islanders cap strong road trip with OT win over Devils

Jim Hague, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchangeFebruary 1, 2013

NEWARK, N.J. -- Maybe the moribund New York Islanders have discovered some new life and are ready to turn the corner as a legitimate NHL contender.
"We found a way to win on the road, and good teams are the ones to do that," said Islanders center John Tavares, who had two goals and an assist in the Islanders' 5-4 overtime victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night at the Prudential Center.
"We've had a lot of fun over the last five games," Tavares said after his team finished a 3-1-1 road trip, improving to 4-2-1 overall. "The key is just understanding our team and our game. We know we're a tough team to go against right now. I was always pretty confident, even though things didn't go our way."
The Islanders blew one two-goal lead and three one-goal advantages, yet they managed to win when Brad Boyes scored a power-play goal with 2:59 left in overtime.
After Devils defenseman Henrik Tallinder went off for a cross check, the Islanders put the pressure on during the power play. Boyes, who was signed as a free agent from the Buffalo Sabres in the offseason, scored the game-winner off a mad scramble in front.
"(Devils goalkeeper Martin Brodeur) came out to play it, and I was able to somehow kick it over to Johnny (Tavares), who put it on net," Boyes said. "There were bodies flopping all over. I just took a whack at it, and I'm happy it went in. I was just glad to be part of the power play in overtime."
Islanders coach Jack Capuano was not behind the bench when Boyes scored. Capuano was struck by an inadvertent puck in the third period, causing a cut that required several stitches.
"It's been unbelievable," Capuano said. "I can't believe my luck, but I'm glad we hung with it. We deserved the win. I think the power play was the key to the win. We had two power-play goals early on a world-class goalie and got another in overtime. I'm happy with the work ethic. It's good to build camaraderie with a new team on the road, but this is just one hockey game. We have to put it behind us."
The Devils fell to 3-0-3, still not losing a game in regulation this season.
Brodeur tried to rationalize the play in overtime.
"I thought I made the right decision to play the puck," said Brodeur, who made 30 saves. "I don't know if it bounced or someone hit my stick. After I made the first save, it was a free-for-all. I thought I could get it. I made the right decision."
Mark Streit and Keith Aucoin added one goal each for the Islanders.
The Devils had four players score their first goals of the season. Tallinder had his first goal in almost two years, while Steve Bernier, Ryan Carter and Adam Henrique, playing his first game after returning from a thumb injury, also scored for New Jersey.
Evegni Nabokov made 28 saves for the Islanders, earning his fourth win of the season.
The Islanders took a 4-3 lead when Streit scored with 8:18 remaining in regulation on a shot that deflected off Devils defenseman Adam Larsson's stick. It was Streit's third goal of the season.
The Devils responded when Henrique lifted a backhand over Nabokov with 6:10 left. Neither team scored again until Boyes' OT goal.
"A big part of what we do has been special teams, on both sides," Boyes said. "We're getting key plays at key times. We have played some good teams in their building and won those games. We have to learn and build and keep moving forward."
Aucoin, who was claimed off waivers from Toronto, believes the Islanders are for real.
"It's still early, but I think this is proof we can play," Aucoin said. "We have guys who are getting to know each other, and I think we have the makings of a successful team. I like what we have."
NOTES: Henrique made his return after recovering from a torn ligament in his thumb, an injury he incurred while playing earlier in the season with Albany of the AHL. Henrique was one of the top rookies in the NHL last season, when he had 16 goals and 35 assists. He also scored overtime goals that clinched playoff series against the Florida Panthers and the New York Rangers. Henrique centered New Jersey's fourth line Thursday. ... To make room for Henrique, the team placed right wing Cam Janssen on waivers, which he cleared. He was assigned to Albany. ... New Jersey is also committed for the time being to 18-year-old Stefan Matteau, the team's top draft pick last year. The Devils were supposed to make a decision about whether to keep Matteau with the big club or ship him back to the juniors for seasoning, but that decision has been placed on hold for the time being, although Matteau was a healthy scratch Thursday. ... Devils defenseman Mark Fayne saw his consecutive games streak end at 119 Thursday night, as he sat out with a minor arm injury. ... Larsson, who played in 65 games a year ago, made his season debut Thursday night because of Fayne's injury. Larsson was a healthy scratch for the first five games. ... Islanders right wing Colin McDonald began a two-game suspension for boarding Pittsburgh defenseman Ben Lovejoy on Tuesday.