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Islanders stay hot by beating Leafs

The SportsXchange

TORONTO - The New York Islanders seem to be a different team now.

They showed that they have regained their winning ways when center Frans Nielsen, defenseman Calvin de Haan and right winger Cal Clutterbuck scored third-period goals on Tuesday to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3.

Right wingers Kyle Okposo and Michael Grabner also scored for the Islanders (16-22-7), who have won two in a row and five of six. Center John Tavares added two assists for the Islanders.

The test came late in the third period when Leafs left winger Joffrey Lupul cut their lead to 4-3 with his 13th goal of the season at 16:55.

"We didn't panic," Okposo said. "They scored one with three minutes left, a one-goal game, and I thought we did a good job of responding. We didn't give up anything, we played sound defensively, we got pucks in and we just tried to work in the opposite zone and take some time away."

Clutterbuck put the game away with his sixth goal of the season into an empty net with nine seconds remaining.

Center Tyler Bozak and left winger Mason Raymond also scored for the Maple Leafs (21-18-5), who have lost two in a row after winning three straight.

"Every time we got things going and got back even we couldn't push it over the mountain," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "I thought we played passive, we were afraid to make a mistake versus being aggressive and going after it."

The Maple Leafs made it close with the late goal, but the Islanders did not flinch.

"We've been there before too many times this year," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "So we just stick to the game plan and stay the course, defend properly and do the right things, I thought we did that. We knew they were going to make a push. They're a good team but we held our composure. I felt we won the lines and won the wall battles and that was the difference late in the game."

Kevin Poulin made 23 saves in goal for the Islanders.

Jonathan Bernier, starting his sixth straight game in goal for the Maple Leafs, made 20 saves.

"You could say that it wasn't one of his better nights, that's for sure," Carlyle said of Bernier. "That's the way I'd like to describe it. We've called upon him too many times this year in a lot of situations. You can't point your finger at one guy for your team losing."

The Maple Leafs had a 4-0 advantage in power plays over the first two periods but scored on only one of them, and the teams entered the third tied at 2-2.

The Islanders took advantage of their first power play in the game to take a 3-2 lead at 3:41 of the third. Nielsen scored his 16th goal of the season when he knocked in the rebound after left winger Thomas Vanek's shot was blocked by defenseman Cody Franson. Lupul was off for goaltender interference at the time.

The Islanders took a 4-2 lead at 6:01 when de Haan scored his first goal of the season on a shot from outside the blue line.

"We got some timely goals and you take advantage of those when they come your way and we did a good job trying to limit their chances," Tavares said. "When you start to win a few, your confidence starts to come back. I still think the ability is here, it's the execution and obviously that's been there the last few weeks."

The teams were tied 1-1 after one period and 2-2 after two periods.

After killing off the game's first power play, the Islanders jumped to a 2-1 lead at 3:06 of the second period on Grabner's sixth goal of the season. He stuffed the puck into the right side of the net on a wraparound when Bernier abandoned the puck at the left side of the goal when was in the goaltender's no-play zone following a clearance from the Islanders' zone.

"The second one was obviously my bad but I thought the puck was stopped," Bernier said. "When I looked up to see where the guy was, the puck was still rolling."

Raymond's 12th goal of the season tied the game at 8:20 of the second on a power play. Defenseman Travis Hamonic was off for hooking when Raymond snapped in the rebound from defenseman Jake Gardiner's shot from the right point.

The Maple Leafs took the lead in the first period when Bozak tipped in defenseman Paul Ranger's slap shot from the left point at 5:05 for his sixth goal of the season.

The Islanders tied the game at 19:16 of the first on Okposo's 17th goal of the season, a wrist shot of about 50 feet from above the right faceoff circle.

NOTES: Maple Leafs RW David Clarkson (bruised left foot) and D Carl Gunnarsson (elbow) did not play. They were injured in Toronto's 7-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday. ... D Tim Gleason, obtained last week in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes, made his Maple Leafs debut Tuesday. ... Islanders G Evgeni Nabokov (groin) left Monday's win over the Dallas Stars, and he was placed on injured reserve after the game. G Anders Nilsson was recalled from AHL Bridgeport. ... RW Kyle Okposo returned to play for the Islanders on Tuesday after missing Monday's game to be present for the birth of his daughter. ... The Maple Leafs won the first game of the season between the teams 5-2 on Nov. 19 at Air Canada Centre.
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