Published February 27, 2014
Uniondale, NY – Uniondale, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Lubomir Visnovsky scored the winner 1:55 into overtime to lift the New York Islanders to a 5-4 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday in a wild post-Olympic break opener for both teams.
The Islanders had a 2-1 lead for more than 32 minutes of game time before the teams traded five goals in an 8 1/2-minute flurry in the third period.
Anders Lee -- in his first appearance this season for the Islanders -- scored his second goal of the game with 2:40 left in regulation to tie it.
Visnovsky got the winner after a failed Toronto clear ended up on his stick in the slot for a slap shot.
Earlier, Michael Grabner scored two short-handed goals on the same penalty kill for the Islanders, who had gone into the Olympic break with two straight losses and on a 1-6-1 slide.
"We worked tonight," said Islanders coach Jack Capuano. "We've worked pretty hard this year and we were resilient."
The Islanders returned without leading scorer John Tavares, who will miss the rest of the season after suffering tears to the MCL and meniscus in his left knee while playing for Canada in Sochi.
Evgeni Nabokov gave up four goals on 22 shots but got the win for New York.
Phil Kessel, Paul Ranger, Dion Phaneuf and Joffrey Lupul scored for the Maple Leafs, who lost for just the fourth time in their last 15 games.
Kessel remained hot after leading the Olympic tournament with eight points for the United States, including five goals. He had the winner against Vancouver in Toronto's last game before the break.
Jonathan Bernier made 30 saves for Toronto.
The explosion of goals started with Ranger's 8:50 into the third period. He was in front to clean up after James van Riemsdyk flipped a puck off the post from the low left side and it hit off his body.
Phaneuf then gave the Maple Leafs a 3-2 lead 2:36 later on a screaming one- timer from the right circle that beat Nabokov high on the near side.
Lee scored his first goal 1:26 after that on a power play at the end of a tic- tac-toe play but it took Toronto just 62 seconds to retake the lead on Lupul's backhand to finish a give-and-go with Nazem Kadri.
Earlier, Kessel continued to build his case as one of the game's best scorers, beating Nabokov to the far side with a wrist shot from the right circle 6:53 into the game.
But Grabner's shorthanded goals with Eric Boulton off for holding gave the Islanders the lead.
The first came as Grabner and Casey Cizikas pressured the Maple Leafs deep in their zone and Cizikas' steal set up a pass to Grabner in the slot.
Bernier came way out of his net on the second goal and sent an errant pass of defenseman Morgan Rielly's skate. Grabner was there to knock in the loose puck with one second left on the penalty kill.
"Gifts," said Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. "I got no other way to describe the goals that we gave up. We were fortunate to get a point."
Before Thursday, the Islanders had just one point in their last six home games (0-5-1) ... Lee scored in his NHL debut last season, when he played just two games ... The Maple Leafs play at Montreal on Saturday ... The Islanders have two home games this weekend, against New Jersey on Saturday and Florida on Sunday.