Uniondale, NY – Frans Nielsen's power-play goal in the final minute of the second period snapped a tie game, and the New York Islanders scored twice more in the third en route to a 5-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets at Nassau Coliseum.
Matt Moulson and John Tavares each had a goal and an assist in the win, the fifth in sixth games for a surging Islanders squad that moved into a tie with New Jersey for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Colin McDonald also tallied for New York, which received a goal from newly signed rookie Anders Lee in his NHL debut as well.
Kevin Poulin aided the cause with a 23-save effort that helped deal the struggling Jets a season-high fourth consecutive defeat.
Paul Postma accounted for both Winnipeg scores in his first career multi-goal performance, with Ondrej Pavelec stopping 34-of-38 shots in the setback.
With Washington downing Carolina on Tuesday, the Jets' lead over the Capitals for first place in the Southeast Division dwindled to two points.
Postma's second marker of the night put the Islanders down 2-1 just over six minutes into the second period, but New York moved back in front with a pair of tallies before the session came to a close.
Near the midway mark of the frame, Michael Grabner hit McDonald all alone at the doorstep of the net with a beautiful backhand pass that his linemate slid under Pavelec's pads to forge a 2-2 tie.
The Isles then capitalized on a hooking penalty to Winnipeg's Evander Kane near the end of the period to pull ahead. Pavelec kicked Mark Streit's long drive right out to Nielsen, who promptly fired the puck home from the right circle 28 seconds prior to the final intermission.
"We got pucks to the net and that was the big thing," said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano. "After two periods we had close to 30 shots and that's the one thing that we wanted to try to accomplish tonight."
It remained a 3-2 game into the latter stages of the contest, when an over- aggressive forecheck by the Jets created a 2-on-1 rush between Tavares and Moulson that ended in the latter's back-breaking goal with exactly two minutes left to play.
With Winnipeg having pulled Pavelec in the final minute, Moulson blocked a shot that started a Tavares breakaway for an easy empty-netter that sealed the win with 36 seconds to go.
Lee, signed by the Islanders to a two-year entry-level contract on Monday after just concluding a stellar collegiate career at Notre Dame, wasted little time making his presence felt. The 22-year-old gave his new team a 1-0 edge with a quick wrist shot that caught Pavelec off guard and went through the Winnipeg netminder's legs with 3:47 left in the opening period.
"I was just trying to get the puck to the net," Lee said. "I was so surprised. I just threw it on net, it happened to go in, and the boys came to congratulate me. It was pretty awesome. My head was spinning at that point. If it wasn't enough to be playing in my first game, that was really exciting."
The Jets answered less than two minutes later, however. Eric Tangradi skated up the right side and put up a shot that was blocked in front of the net, but Postma was able to blast the loose puck past Poulin to knot the score.
Postma got behind the New York defense for an easy tap-in of Chris Thorburn's pass at the 6:02 mark of the second to give Winnipeg its only lead of the night.
The win was the 78th for Jack Capuano as the Islanders' head coach, moving him past current Flyers bench boss Peter Laviolette for sole possession of third place in franchise history ... Postma entered the contest having notched just one goal in 29 career NHL games ... Streit and Brad Boyes each finished with two assists for the Isles ... New York improved to 13-3-3 when scoring the game's first goal this season and 17-2-2 when netting three or more goals ... Winnipeg defenseman Grant Clitsome sat out the game after taking a stick to the eye in Monday's loss to the New York Rangers, but fellow blueliner Mark Stuart returned to the lineup after missing six straight with an upper- body injury.