Isles Building Momentum & Confidence With Shootout Win

Taking a deep breath after a four-game road trip that happily culminated with a win at The Garden, the Islanders return to Brooklyn on Saturday against San Jose with smiles on their faces.

But the grins didn’t come easy; not after blowing a 3-1 lead on Thursday night in the third period; not to mention missing on a shortened 1:19 power play in overtime.

Still, the “All’s well that ends well” theme was underlined with the 4-3 shootout triumph.

It was cemented by Captain John Tavares‘ game-winning shootout goal, a backhander that just barely nestled under the crossbar behind Henrik Lundqvist.

Tavares red light followed linemate Jordan Eberle‘s shootout opener that eased the Brooklynites’ pressure.

After Mats Zuccarello had started the shootout for the Blueshirts with his goal past Jaroslav Halak, the Isles netminder then foiled Mika Zibanejad and David Desharnais in that order. Thus two points went to the Brooklynites.

“It was just reacting,” Halak explained about his post-overtime performance. “All of them went five-hole except the first one. On the first one, I got a piece of it but it went in off my skate. It was just an unfortunate bounce.

“I’m just glad our guys were able to score big goals in the shootout and get the two points.”

Halak has enjoyed overwhelming success (12-1-0) against Lundqvist. But when the post game question about why this was the case was put to the Slovakian rubber-stopper, he merely shook it off in a modest manner.

“I’m not trying to pay attention to it,” Halak added. “I’m trying to focus on my game; every game.”

Although the Islanders top line of Tavares, Anders Lee and Eberle proved less than overwhelming over regular time and the extra session, each played a major part in the victory with shootout heroics.

Then again, it was front-of-the-net Lee who delivered the winner’s first power play goal at 2:40 of the first period. Defenseman Ryan Pulock — playing his first game of the campaign — assisted on the goal.

“The win gives us a good momentum going into Saturday’s game,” said Lee who admittedly made a bad play in the third period leading to the Rangers second goal.

“It was a good win in a tough building although a little ugly for us at the end.”

After Desharnais tied the count for the Rangers at 5:02 of the opening frame, Brock Nelson‘s hot stick put the Brooks ahead just over a minute later with his fourth goal of the year. In terms of confidence, the scoring was much needed.

For one thing, the Isles face the Sharks at Barclays Center on Saturday night (6:30 p.m., MSG+), secure in the knowledge that the only team out of three that they had beaten in California was the very same San Jose sextet.

And for another Isles motivating factor, they will be cheered by a host of ex-Islanders in town for a three-day Alumni Weekend, the first fete of its kind in organization history.

Another plus, of course, is that the win lifted the Isles to a 3-3-1 record, putting them at the .500 mark.

“It helped get the monkey off our backs,” said coach Doug Weight after a deep exhale.

Whatever had been braking the Islanders progress, it was pushed forward by another outstanding performance by Mathew Barzal.

The rookie’s goal early in the second period put the Isles ahead 3-1 followed by a few other dangerous thrusts that had the media rating him one of the best players on the ice although officials gave Tavares the first star and Nelson the second.

“We’ll take this win and hope it gives us momentum on Saturday,” Tavares asserted.

“Getting the first power play goal of the season obviously was nice. We had made some adjustments and, hopefully, it will lead to more.”

Whether or not the victory is a portent of better things to come will better be known by about 10 p.m. on Saturday.

But, for the moment at least, the Brooklynites can rest secure in the knowledge that they not only obtained two points in Manhattan but that the triumph could be the start of something big.

Surrounded by a media horde in the visitor’s clubhouse, Halak succinctly summed up the prevailing thoughts of his teammates.

“We just need to build on this win!!”

The Garden of Dreams Foundation helps kids facing obstacles in the Tri-State area, including Rangers fan Taylor Ryan who is battling a rare blood disorder called Langerhans cell histiocytosis.