ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA (TICKER) —Alexei Yashin made the most of his demotion.
Relegated to the fourth line, Yashin scored with 7:14 left in the third period to lift the New York Islanders into a 2-2 with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in a battle of teams fighting for playoff position.
Yashin, a former Hart Trophy finalist, was dropped from the first line to the fourth during Saturday’s 3-2 victory at Los Angeles. A few miles south in Anaheim, the three-time All-Star got a drop pass from Arron Asham just inside the Ducks’ blue line snapped a wrist shot over the left shoulder of goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
“It was not a relief because I scored, but it’s a relief because I could help the team,” Yashin said. “It was a great play. (Asham) left the puck for me in a place where I could get a good shot.”
It was his 14th goal of the season and first in eight games.
“I just play hard 18-20 minutes a night, no matter what,” Yashin said. “I just want to help the team.”
Asked if he thought the shakeup would get Yashin going, Islanders coach Peter Laviolette said, “I hope it does. I think time will tell. He was shooting the puck pretty hard tonight. He had a lot of shots, a lot of opportunities. He’s a professional, he played hard tonight.”
Anaheim had a chance to secure the extra point in overtime when Petr Sykora pounced on a turnover and broke in alone on goalie Garth Snow. But he was hooked at the last second by Jason Blake and put a shot off the left goalpost with 2:59 remaining.
New York’s Oleg Kvasha ran out of gas on a partial breakaway in the final minute and got off a weak shot that was handled easily by Giguere.
Defenseman Adrian Aucoin had the other goal for the Islanders, who are 1-1-1 on a four-game road trip that concludes Wednesday in San Jose. They climbed within one point of sixth-place Boston in the Eastern Conference.
The Ducks trail sixth-place Minnesota by one point in the Western Conference.
“It’s not very satisfying when you have the lead, but we’ll take the one point,” said Anaheim captain Paul Kariya, who had a goal and an assist.
Adam Oates set up both goals for Anaheim, giving him 1,050 assists and moving him past Gordie Howe into sixth place on the all-time list.
“Obviously, he’s ‘Mr. Hockey,’” Oates said of Howe. “He’s a special man. He’s done so much for the game, he’s one of the icons. He wasn’t really known as a finesse guy, a disher, but still, obviously, it’s quite an accomplishment. I’m proud of it.”
The milestone assist came on Kariya’s goal 74 seconds into the third period. Oates set up behind the net and flicked a backhanded pass in front to Kariya, who cut across the slot and wristed the puck past Snow for his 21st of the season.
“That’s a great moment in his career, passing Gordie Howe,” Kariya said. “I’m sure he’ll pass a few more guys by the time his career is over.”
Oates tied Howe in the second period when he got the secondary assist on Sykora’s 23rd goal. Oates worked the puck to Kariya, who swung the puck in front of the net to Sykora.
“We really got ig going a bit,” Oates said, referring to his linemates. “I really enjoy playing with Paul and Petr. We complement each other pretty well.”
Aucoin gave New York a 1-0 lead at 5:42 of the opening period. Goalless in 25 games since November 30, he got a pass from Roman Hamrlik at the top of the right faceoff circle and flipped a shot past Giguere.
Snow stopped 29 shots and is 5-3-1 since Chris Osgood suffered a sprained ankle.
“I think he’s the backbone of the team,” Laviolette said. “He’s continued to step forward. He’s carried us.”
Giguere made 31 saves.