TORONTO (AP)—Mikhail Grabovski had not scored in 17 games, and had never netted a goal in overtime.
None of that deterred Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson from putting him on the ice with the game on the line.
Grabovski scored 50 seconds into overtime to give the Maple Leafs a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday night. It was his first goal since Jan. 29.
“The coach had faith in me and gave me a chance to play in overtime,” Grabovski said. “It’s my first career goal in overtime, so I’m pretty happy.
“Before, I had games with lots of chances but I couldn’t score. My hands, maybe. But the coach believed in me and he kept me in there.”
The Islanders blew a chance to clear the puck from their zone and, after two teammates had whacks at the puck, Grabovski fired the puck in from the middle of the zone for his 14th goal. The shot beat goalie Joey MacDonald, who was out of position after making a save.
“The way things have been going for him, I could see that puck bouncing and a swing and a miss,” Wilson said. “Fortunately, he got his stick on it.
“Even during the game, there were a few times where I didn’t know where he was (on the bench). He was so worried about scoring, but he got a bounce tonight. He was in the right spot and got the job done.”
“I look at it as two seasons,” Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. “The first half was obviously very frustrating in that we lost our No. 1 goaltender (Rick DiPietro) and … all the other injuries. The second half has been a breath of fresh air. Our guys have responded and what we hoped would happen in the first half is now happening in the second half.
“The compete level from all the individuals has been tremendous. As a result, we’ve become a hard team to play against. Any coach will tell you that, when you can walk away from a game saying his team is a hard team to play against, it’s a satisfying feeling.”
Stempniak beat MacDonald with a low wrist shot from the middle of New York’s zone to open the scoring with his 12th goal at 17:27 of the first.
Okposo tied it by whacking in a bouncing puck in front of goalie Martin Gerber for his 15th of the season at 17:42. Comeau gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead when he fired in a long shot for his seventh goal at 18:27.
The Islanders, 6-23-3 on the road, were unable to add to their lead in the first half of the second period despite having manpower advantages for five minutes as a result of three consecutive Toronto penalties.
“We had some great possession and time in the offensive zone, but we just didn’t convert the chances we had,” Gordon said.
Ponikarovsky tied it 2-2 with his 19th goal at 8:46 when he knocked down an Islanders clearing attempt and rifled a shot into a top corner.
The Isles had a 30-26 shots edge through 60 minutes. The Leafs got off the only two shots on goal in overtime.
The announced attendance was 19,041, the second-smallest Maple Leafs home crowd this season. … Toronto G Vesa Toskala underwent season-ending surgery to repair a labrum tear in his hip. D Mike Van Ryn tore the medial collateral ligament in his left knee Saturday, and D Jonas Frogren sprained a knee ligament in the same 4-1 loss against Edmonton. Both players are out for the season. … D Brendan Witt returned to the Islanders lineup after serving a five-game suspension for a hit to the head of Maple Leafs RW Niklas Hagman, who is still sidelined.