UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Some 30 years ago, a matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum would have drawn the full attention of the NHL.
Times have changed since the dynasty era for each franchise. But this last meeting on Long Island before the Islanders move to Brooklyn hardly disappointed.
Casey Cizikas snapped a third-period tie with 4:37 left, and the Islanders pulled out an entertaining 3-2 win over the Oilers on Tuesday night.
The Islanders, whose four-year run as Stanley Cup champions was stopped by the Oilers in 1984, have their sights set on making a deep run in this season’s playoffs. Edmonton, which won five of seven Cup titles once it took the trophy from New York, has fallen on hard times and has the fewest wins in the NHL.
Still, despite playing for a second straight night, the Oilers gave the Islanders everything they could handle. Edmonton just couldn’t beat Jaroslav Halak in the third period, even with a 15-5 edge in shots.
“It wasn’t our greatest game,” Islanders captain John Tavares said. “They played hard, especially on a back-to-back. Give them credit. We just weren’t at our best. We seemed a little sluggish. We’ve got to pick up our game.”
New York is 18-6 at home but nearly dropped its third straight there at the start of a four-game homestand. The Islanders have won three of four overall.
“As a coach you always worry a little bit about the first game back after a road trip,” coach Jack Capuano said of his Metropolitan Division-leading Islanders. “Not everybody had their game, but we found a way to win and that’s the sign of a good team.”
The Oilers made a strong bid to win for the second consecutive night as they dominated the third period. But Halak stood tall and prevented what would have been a disappointing loss for the Islanders.
Edmonton pinned New York in its end for long stretches, but couldn’t generate prime scoring chances.
Cizikas broke the tie when he fired a shot past Viktor Fasth. Colin McDonald, who assisted on the winning goal, and Josh Bailey also scored for New York. Halak made 34 saves.
“My job is to create some energy, get some bounces,” McDonald said. “I saw Casey in the middle. I was just trying to get it close to him. It was a desperation play. Fortunately it worked out.”
Ryan Hamilton and Anton Lander had power-play goals, and Fasth stopped 25 shots for Edmonton. The Islanders have won eight straight home games against the Oilers, dating to 1999.
“The effort was there for sure, but the result not quite,” Lander said.
New York took a 2-1 lead with 8:33 left in the second period when defenceman Thomas Hickey’s shot from the blue line hit Bailey in flight and fluttered past Fasth for his ninth goal. It was originally credited to Hickey, who hasn’t scored a goal in 29 games, dating to the winner on Dec. 2 against Ottawa. But again Edmonton used its suddenly potent power play to tie it.
After a scrum that landed Bailey in the penalty box, Lander took a pass in the slot from Jordan Eberle and netted his second of the season with 3:26 left in the second to make it 2-all. Eberle, the Oilers’ leading scorer with 36 points, assisted on both Edmonton goals in a 2-1 win at New Jersey on Monday. He has three goals and four assists in his last six games.
The Oilers quickly took advantage of the NHL’s worst penalty-killing team and grabbed a 1-0 lead on Hamilton’s first career goal, just 23 seconds into the power play. Hamilton, recalled Tuesday from Oklahoma City of the AHL, tipped in a shot by Nail Yakupov at 10:17.