Leafs falter late to Islanders
The Toronto Maple Leafs had a pretty nice evening going Monday against the Islanders but everything changed in a New York half-minute when the Isles fired in two goals in 30 seconds to tie the game at 3-3. That merely set the stage for a John Taveras classic overtime winner as the Leafs fell at home, 4-3.
Toronto, which lost the services of defenceman Roman Polak for the rest of the season (hernia surgery) and made Kazem Nadri a healthy scratch due to disciplinary measures, displayed heart and hustle in building a 2-0 lead through two periods.
David Booth worked a give-and-go with the boards and split the Islanders' defence for the opening goal, while in the second period Peter Holland displayed good hands to tuck a goal into the Isles' net.
In the third period after the Islanders closed to within a goal, James van Riemsdyk used his speed on a breakaway goal to restore Toronto's two-goal advantage.
But then came the fatal let-down. The Islanders' Frans Nielsen cut the gap to a goal and then 30 seconds later Toronto native Casey Cizikas tied the game at 3-3.
Much to the delight of his family and friends who were in attendance at the Air Canada Centre, NHL scoring leader John Taveras worked his magic for the game-winner at 4:38 of overtime. With the win, the Islanders joined the Montreal Canadiens atop the Eastern Conference with 90 points.
Canucks pull one out over Ducks
In the close quarters of the Western Conference playoff race the Vancouver Canucks sought some breathing room in the chase as they began a five-game home-stand. it came late, but they got it in a 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks.
Despite only 10 shots at the Ducks goal through two periods, but with stellar goaltending by Eddie Lack, the Canucks held a 1-0 lead. Rookie Bo Horvat supplied the offence with his 11th of the season.
Along came Emerson Etem to nearly spoil things with the tying goal at 8:40 of the third period and it appeared the game might be headed to overtime. Zack Kassian had other ideas, though, and cranked one past Frederik Andersen for the game-winner, 2-1.
That boosted Vancouver to 80 points, good for second in the Pacific Division, three points up on Calgary.
Oilers can't halt soaring Red Wings
For a period the Edmonton Oilers more than held their own in Detroit against the Red Wings, but then the Wings took off and posted a 5-2 triumph that brought them within three points on Tampa Bay in the Atlantic Division with two games in hand.
Jimmy Howard shook off the first period goal he allowed just 2:15 into the game and posted 36 saves to earn the victory for Detroit.
After Niklas Kronwall scored 21 seconds into the second period to tie it, Riley Sheahan put Detroit ahead for good popping in a short pass from Gustav Nyquist.
Edmonton's Nail Yakupov scored with less than two minutes to play before the Red Wings twice scored into an empty net with the Oilers' Ben Scrivens pulled for an extra attacker.