Not only did the Los Angeles Kings' stun the New York Islanders with three third-period goals in a comeback win, they did it with a bunch of fill-ins.
Undeterred by a two-goal deficit in the final frame, the Kings stormed back to beat the Islanders 3-2 on Thursday night in most unpredictable fashion. Tyler Toffoli, playing in just his fifth NHL game this season, tipped Jake Muzzin's drive past surprised goalie Kevin Poulin with 1:27 left.
Tanner Pearson had tied it 2-2 with 7:45 remaining with a power-play goal in his first NHL regular-season game. Slava Voynov, who assisted on Pearson's goal, started the turnaround for the Kings at 5:34 of the third.
Pearson, who made his NHL debut in last season's playoffs, had to wait out a video review to see if his goal would hold up. He squeezed a shot past Poulin, and the puck barely trickled over the line.
"I was praying it would cross the line, and it did," he said. "I'm glad they didn't call it off. A special moment for sure."
Due to injuries to forwards Jeff Carter and Kyle Clifford, Toffoli and Linden Vey — who assisted on the final two goals — were recalled from the minors earlier this month. Toffoli has at least one point in all five games he has played.
"This shows the depth of our character," veteran defenseman Drew Doughty said. "We're missing guys and we found a way even when we were behind the 8-ball. Our special teams made the difference."
Pearson was brought up to the Kings on Wednesday. His power-play goal helped make a winner of backup Ben Scrivens, who stopped 23 shots in place of regular Jonathan Quick.
Quick strained a groin during overtime of the Kings' shootout loss at Buffalo on Tuesday. It is unknown when he will rejoin the lineup.
"Impossible to replace Quickie," Scrivens said. "I thought we played a very solid road game and did well on special teams. It was a solid team win all around."
Aaron Ness gave the Islanders a 2-0 lead in the second period with his first NHL goal after Casey Cizikas put New York in front with his first of the season. The Islanders appeared in line for their second straight home win after an 0-4 trip, but instead sustained their most disheartening loss of the season.
"That was a big physical team," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said of the Kings. "I thought we played decently and well enough to win.
"You're always frustrated when two points slip away. The big thing is how we respond. We have to find a way."
Poulin stopped 21 shots while making his third straight start and fourth in five games ahead of Evgeni Nabokov. Poulin allowed only one goal in a loss at Carolina on Nov. 7 and one in a victory over Nashville on Tuesday. In between, he was beaten 4-2 at Montreal on Saturday.
He was done in by the rough third period. Los Angeles scored the tying goal after Colin McDonald was sent off for a check to the head of Trevor Lewis.
"They made a push, and their special teams and defense came through," Capuano said. "That's what good teams do and that's what good special teams do."
Cizikas had given the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 2:44 of the second when he got to a loose puck in front. Cizikas gathered it and flung a backhander that beat Scrivens, who had dived to try to smother the puck before Cizikas could fling it into the vacated net.
It took only 2:14 more for Ness to double New York's lead with his first NHL goal.
Ness, in his fifth game of the season and 14th in his NHL career, was the beneficiary of a crisp, cross-zone pass from Islanders captain John Tavares, who moved the puck from the right circle into the slot for a one-timed shot that beat Scrivens.
Voynov fired an in-close shot off a pass from Anze Kopitar that pinballed past Poulin to cut the Kings' deficit to 2-1.
The game had many sloppy moments on both sides, with players losing control of the puck off their sticks and stumbling on what appeared to be uneven ice.
More surprisingly, the game had several chippy plays between clubs that haven't met since February 2012. Twice in the second period, the Kings were whistled for goalie interference after collisions with Poulin. Kopitar barreled into Poulin late in the second period, and was pulled out of the net by his jersey by rugged Islanders forward Matt Martin.
The physical play started early with Los Angeles' Jordan Nolan fighting Islanders defenseman Matt Carkner just 1:47 in. Cizikas was called for roughing in the first period, and teammate Cal Clutterbuck was sent off for charging in the second.
NOTES: Islanders LW Thomas Vanek missed his third straight game because of an upper-body injury. ... It was also the first NHL point for Ness, who was recalled from Bridgeport (AHL) on Nov. 7. He played nine games with the Islanders in the 2011-12 season. ... The Islanders were 0 for 4 on the power play. ... Kopitar has 3 goals, 4 assists in six games. Mike Richards had a five-game point streak snapped.