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Published September 12, 2015
Something has changed in the New York Islanders' approach, and the positives are showing on the ice — especially away from home.
Frans Nielsen, Calvin De Haan and Cal Clutterbuck scored third-period goals to lead the Islanders past the Toronto Maple leafs 5-3 on Tuesday night.
New York has won five consecutive road games and six of seven.
"Early on, I don't know if it was nerves or a lack of poise or confidence," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "But now we're just playing with an attitude, playing with an edge, playing with confidence and doing the right things to give us a chance."
New York (16-22-7) began a six-game road trip with their second win in two nights with backup Kevin Poulin in goal. Poulin relieved injured starter Evgeni Nabokov on Monday and backstopped the Islanders' 7-3 win over Dallas.
Poulin made 23 saves against the Maple Leafs.
It was another frustrating loss for Toronto (21-18-5), which outshot the Islanders 26-25 in its first game since being beaten 7-1 at home by the New York Rangers on Saturday night. That snapped a three-game winning streak.
The Maple Leafs got within 4-3 when Nazem Kadri's shot deflected in off Joffrey Lupul with 3:05 left for his 13th goal.
Nielsen's power-play goal, his 16th of the season, broke a 2-2 tie at 3:41 while Lupul served a goalie interference penalty. De Haan scored his first NHL goal when his slap shot from outside the blue line hit Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf's stick and bounded past goalie Jonathan Bernier, who wasn't sharp in his sixth straight start.
Bernier got the start despite allowing five goals on 32 shots against the Rangers. He wasn't surprised that coach Randy Carlyle let him finish this game instead of replacing him with James Reimer for a second consecutive game.
"Why would I get pulled?" Bernier said when asked if he appreciated Carlyle's decision to leave him in.
Carlyle wasn't about to blame his Bernier for Toronto's second straight disappointing loss following three consecutive wins.
"You could say it wasn't one of his better nights, that's for sure," Carlyle said. "We've called upon him too many times this year in a lot of situations.
"We did some good things, but it just seemed like we were climbing a mountain. Every time we got things going and got back even we couldn't push it over the mountain. I thought we played passive. We were afraid to make a mistake versus being aggressive and going after it."
Clutterbuck closed the scoring with an empty-netter with under 10 seconds remaining.
Kyle Okposo and Michael Grabner also scored for the Islanders, and John Tavares, named to Canada's Olympic team earlier Tuesday, added three assists after registering five points against Dallas.
"We got some timely goals, and you take advantage of those when they come your way," Tavares said. "We did a good job trying to limit their chances.
"When you start to win a few, your confidence starts to come back. I still think the ability is here, it's the execution. Obviously, that's been there the last few weeks."
Tyler Bozak and Mason Raymond also scored for Toronto, 14-10-1 at home.
"We're not skating and being the tenacious Toronto Maple Leafs that I expect or everybody expects," Carlyle said. "We don't have enough tenacity in our game right now."
Bozak gave the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead when he deflected Paul Ranger's point shot past Poulin 5:05 into the game for his sixth goal. Bozak has two goals and four assists in four games since returning from an oblique injury.
Poulin filled in again for Nabokov, who was placed on the injured list Monday night. New York went 1-9-2 when Nabokov was recently sidelined by a groin injury.
Okposo, who sat out Monday because of the birth of his daughter, pulled New York even at 19:16 with his 17th goal.
New York went ahead on a peculiar play early in the second. Bernier left his crease to stop a loose puck behind the net but couldn't prevent it from going outside the no-play zone. That allowed Grabner to take the loose puck and score his sixth goal unassisted on the wraparound at 3:06.
"That was obviously my bad," Bernier said. "I thought the puck was stopped.
"When I looked up to see where the guy was, the puck was still rolling."
Toronto had four power-play chances in the period but only scored at 8:25 to make it 2-2. Poulin stopped Jake Gardiner's point shot but Raymond converted the rebound for his 12th goal and second in 16 games.
NOTES: D Tim Gleason made his Maple Leafs debut. ... Tavares extended his point streak to seven games, but teammate Thomas Vanek's string ended at nine.