TORONTO, Cananda – Ironman Matt Moulson went on the offensive Thursday night for the New York Islanders.
The veteran forward scored twice in his 248th straight NHL game, helping the Islanders rally from an early 3-1 deficit to capture a 7-4 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I had a bunch of chances the last couple of games, but couldn’t get anything to go in,” Moulson said. “I just have to keep whacking away in front of the net.
“A lot of credit to my linemates for working hard and creating chances for me.”
Moulson, in his fifth NHL season and fourth with the Islanders, has yet to miss a game with New York. Only Billy Harris (576 games), Bob Nystrom (301) and Denis Potvin (262) have played in more consecutive contests in club history.
But it didn’t look good early for New York (2-1), which trailed 3-1 after the first period but gained momentum by killing off a two-man advantage late in the frame. After tying it up with two goals in the second, the Islanders took control by scoring four times in the third to open a five-game, eight-day road trip on a winning note.
“Killing that (5-on-3) penalty when we were down 3-1 late in the first period, you could look at that as a turning point for us,” said Islanders forward Brad Boyes, who had a goal against his former team. “If they get one there, it’s probably a much different game.”
Toronto (2-2) fell to 0-2 on home ice this season and returned to the Air Canada Centre following a solid 5-2 road victory in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night. But that didn’t impress some among the ACC gathering of 19,125 who began chanting “Let’s go Blue Jays with 2:40 remaining.
“I think we saw one team last night and a totally different team tonight,” Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle said. “We were out of it, we were out of sync.
“I thought the first period was more a shinny period of hockey. We were skating but we weren’t really engaged in the game. We managed to get a 3-1 lead out of it but really the last seven, eight minutes of the first period was the start of the way we finished the game.”
Toronto finished the contest 0-5 on the power play, including 0-2 while enjoying a two-man advantage for a combined 52 seconds that left Carlyle shaking his head.
“It’s huge, it usually comes back to haunt you,” Carlyle said. “It you don’t score on your 5-on-3 at some point in the game usually momentum is going to turn in favour of the opposition.
“They get life from it and it sucks life from you.”
Michael Grabner, with two, Mark Streit and Keith Aucoin had the other Islanders goals.
Carl Gunnarsson, Nazem Kadri, Mikhail Grabovski and Matt Frattin replied for Toronto.
Grabner gave New York a 4-3 lead at 3:27 of the third, firing a wicked wrist shot past Ben Scrivens for his second of the season before Aucoin scored his first just 1:08 later to put the Islanders ahead 5-3. That was it for Scrivens, who allowed five goals on 20 shots in his third start of the season.
“I was seeing the puck well and in good position,” Scrivens said. “Sometimes those things happen.
“You just have to focus on the process and keep playing games the way I feel I can and should play. It’s a journey . . . it’s the only way you can look at it. It’s another learning experience and it’s a tough one to swallow but I’ll take what I can from it.”
Scrivens was replaced by James Reimer, who got the win in Pittsburgh. But Reimer was beaten cleanly by Moulson’s wrist shot at 11:20 for his second of the season.
The Islanders were playing for the first time since beating Tampa Bay 4-3 on Monday.
Frattin’s goal at 17:47 made it 6-4 and gave the Leafs’ forward three points after being recalled from the AHL’s Toronto Marlies earlier Thursday. Grabner added a short-handed empty-net goal at 18:50.
Toronto controlled the first, outscoring the Islanders 3-1 and outshooting them 16-9. Gunnarsson’s shot from the point at 2:12 beat Evgeni Nabakov, who has started all of New York’s games this season. Gunnarsson’s first goal of the year was also the first by a Leafs defenceman.
Moulson tied it at 8:39, putting a loose puck past Scrivens after the Toronto goalie stopped Moulson’s shot off the faceoff. But the Leafs couldn’t clear the loose puck, allowing Moulson to register his first of the season.
Kadri put Toronto ahead 2-1 at 9:44 when John-Michael Liles blasted a shot wide of Nabakov but the puck bounced off the boards right back to Kadri, who scored his third of the season. Grabovski then beat Nabakov on a wrist shot at 12:48 for his second of the year.
But New York tied the game in the second with goals 1:26 apart. Streit scored on the power play at 11:44, his first of the year, before Boyes deflected Frans Nielsen’s sharp-angled shot past Scrivens for his first at 13:10. Boos could be heard as Toronto left the ice to end the frame.
NOTES — Frattin had eight goals and seven assists in 58 games with Toronto last season . . . The Leafs were 3-1-0 versus the Islanders last season, 1-1-0 at Air Canada Centre . . . Toronto completed its first back-to-back of the shortened season with Thursday night’s game. The Islanders are in Boston on Friday night for the first of their seven back-to-back sets this year. The Leafs face the Rangers in New York on Saturday.