Flames clinch playoff spot after Wild lose to Islanders in OT

The Islanders scored the game-winning goal after Mathew Barzal found Brock Nelson as New York beat the Minnesota Wild 3-2 in overtime.

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A pair of guys who played high school hockey in Minnesota helped the New York Islanders pick up an important two points on the road Sunday night.

They also did no favours for the home team.

Brock Nelson scored 1:04 into overtime and the Islanders beat the Wild 3-2 to move into a tie atop the Metropolitan Division.

“It’s a great moment for him and hopefully he gets a few minutes to share it with them after this and then we’ve gotta head home,” said Devon Toews, who assisted on a goal by Anders Lee.

Nelson played for Warroad near the Canadian border; Lee is from the Minneapolis suburb of Edina.

Lee scored for the fourth straight game and Jordan Eberle added a goal for New York, which has won five of seven. Thomas Greiss made 32 saves. The Islanders are tied with Washington with 91 points with 10 games remaining, but currently hold the tiebreaker with a greater scoring differential.

In the extra session, Nelson converted a feed from Mathew Barzal to beat Alex Stalock with a wrister from the slot. Nelson, who added an assist, established a new career high of 47 points.

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said his club deserved better and was not happy with the Islanders line change about 25 seconds before the winning goal.

With Minnesota bringing the puck out of its own end, Barzal jumped over the boards with a trailing Cal Clutterbuck coming off. After about 10 seconds in the Islanders zone, Barzal and Nelson went the other way for the game-winning goal.

“It was 40 feet too many men. Who are we kidding here? If you look, the guy was at the top of the circle when the other guy came on ice,” Boudreau said.

Zach Parise scored for the first time in 11 games for Minnesota, which pulled one point behind Arizona for the second wild card in the Western Conference. Jared Spurgeon also scored, and Ryan Donato had two assists for 13 points in 13 games since being acquired from Boston on Feb. 20. Stalock finished with 17 saves.

“This team we played tonight is a top team in the league and we outplayed them. It says a lot,” Stalock said.

New York, which had 42 shots in Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Detroit, didn’t get its first of 20 shots until midway through the opening period.

Eberle made it count, ending a 17-game scoring drought by beating Stalock on the short side after Barzal forced a turnover.

“Today’s game was important, just trying to stick to the game plan,” Nelson said. “But in the same way I don’t think we played at the same level but found a way. Timely goals, timely kills, timely saves and just a good mix to get two points.”

Minnesota thought it tied the score 5 minutes into the second when Donato jabbed at a rebound and the puck sneaked across the line. However, the Islanders successfully challenged that Greiss was interfered with during the scramble.

Parise did tie it about six minutes later with a highlight-type individual effort. Ryan Suter centred the puck to the Wild forward at the edge of the blue paint. Parise backhanded the puck between his legs, then reached back between them with his stick to flick a forehand behind Greiss with 8:49 left.

Lee scored on the power play for a 2-1 lead late in the second. It was New York’s first power-play goal in 25 attempts spanning 12 games.

Spurgeon scored on the power play in the third to it 2-2. Minnesota finished 2 for 6 with the man advantage.

NOTES: Lee also scored in four straight games from Nov. 29 to Dec. 6. … The Islanders are 10-1-1 in the second half of back-to-backs this season. … Suter recorded his 300th point with the Wild since he and Parise signed 13-year deals on July 4, 2012. … Islanders C Casey Cizikas (lower-body strain) missed his second straight game. His 19 goals are third-best on the team.


Islanders: Host Boston on Tuesday night.

Wild: Host Colorado on Tuesday night.


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