Squandering a three-goal lead against the Pittsburgh Penguins at home on Nov. 7 cost the New York Islanders a chance at achieving something the franchise hadn't done since its dynasty years.
But on Thursday night, the red-hot Islanders will get a second chance to make history against the Penguins in Brooklyn, when New York hosts Pittsburgh and looks to extend its point streak to a team-record 16 games.
The game Thursday will complete a home-and-home set that began in eventful fashion in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night, when the Islanders gained a measure of revenge on the Penguins by coming back from a pair of two-goal deficits to earn a 5-4 overtime victory.
The Islanders fell behind 2-0 in the first period and trailed 4-2 with fewer than five minutes to play in the third before Josh Bailey and Ryan Pulock scored to force overtime.
Brock Nelson put back the rebound of his own shot 2:55 into the extra session as the Islanders completed their second straight comeback from a multi-goal, third-period deficit. New York trailed the Philadelphia Flyers 3-0 Saturday night before winning, 4-3, in the shootout. It marked the first time in NHL history a team has won back-to-back games in which it trailed by multiple goals with seven minutes left in the third period.
Now the Islanders can do something else unprecedented by either beating the Penguins or falling in overtime or the shootout Thursday night. With the win Tuesday, New York equaled the franchise-record points streak set in 1978-79 and matched in 1980-81 and 1981-82. In the latter campaign, the third of four straight Stanley Cup winners won 15 straight.
The Islanders are 14-0-1 in this stretch and would be chasing a team-record winning streak Thursday if not for the Penguins, who scored three third-period goals Nov. 7 before earning a 4-3 overtime win.
Head coach Barry Trotz has tried to maintain a one-game-at-a-time focus throughout the streak, but he admitted Tuesday night the Islanders are in some pretty select company, and that he'll eventually marvel at the streak once it is in the rearview mirror.
"The teams that they've had in the past -- I mean, they're legendary teams, really," Trotz said Tuesday night. "I don't know if it means anything right now, because we're so focused on just the next game and then just this season. I think when you look back, when you're done, you'll say 'Hey, remember that streak we had?'"
On Tuesday night, the Penguins were lamenting their inability to close out the Islanders and build a winning streak of their own. Pittsburgh beat the Toronto Maple Leafs, 6-1, on Saturday.
"It sucks," Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz told reporters afterward. "I thought we were in control. It doesn't feel good right now. We'll learn from it and try to get ready for Thursday."
Thomas Greiss, who has started every even-numbered game this season for the Islanders, is likely to appear in net Thursday and oppose the Penguins' top netminder, Matt Murray. Greiss earned the win against the Flyers by recording 28 saves. Murray took the loss Tuesday after stopping 37 shots.
Greiss is 4-2-0 in eight regular-season games against the Penguins. Murray is 3-3-2 in eight regular-season appearances against the Islanders.
--Field Level Media