NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 23: Brock Nelson #29 and Thomas Greiss #1 of the New York Islanders celebrate their 6-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild at the Barclays Center on October 23, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Islanders rally for zany OT win vs. Leafs; Bruins drop out of playoff position


The next month-and-a-half could bring the Doug Weight honeymoon period to a screeching halt for the New York Islanders, but the good feelings lasted at least one more night.

Mike Babcock? He’s probably not feeling too happy.

The Toronto Maple Leafs did salvage a standings point, and their young guns did look great on Monday, but Babs is likely fuming about a 6-5 overtime win for the Islanders. He’ll be unhappy with the wide-open game, and also probably with the fact that Andrew Ladd‘s tying goal came with just 1:29 left in the third.

Still, those Leafs kids are alright:

The Maple Leafs squandered leads of 2-1, 4-2 and 5-4 in eventually losing to the red-hot Islanders. Brock Nelson was one of the Islanders’ biggest heroes, scoring two goals, including the overtime-clincher.

The good and the bad for each team

Looking at the big picture, it’s more of a mixed bag for both teams.

Yes, the Maple Leafs suffered from the downside of a wide-open style:

Still, it’s easy to forget that the Maple Leafs were closing off a six-game road trip. Tuesday begins a four-game homestand and they play eight of their next 10 games at home. Even with a congested schedule, the Maple Leafs gain great opportunities to put even more distance between themselves and the Boston Bruins.

Tonight’s single point pushes Toronto to third in the Atlantic while the B’s fell out of the East’s top eight altogether:

Top five in Atlantic:

Canadiens – 68 points in 54 games
Senators – 60 points in 50 games
Maple Leafs – 58 in 51

Bruins – 58 in 55
Panthers – 56 in 52

East wild card races

Rangers – 67 in 52
Flyers – 59 in 54

Bruins – 58 in 55
Islanders – 56 in 51
Panthers – 56 in 52
Devils – 56 in 54 (New Jersey beat Buffalo 2-1 on Monday)

See full standings here.

As you can see, the Islanders find themselves in a remarkable spot. When you consider their games in hand edge over the Bruins and Flyers, their playoff dreams seem surprisingly reasonable right now.

There’s some reason to believe that Weight & Co. might stumble, however.

The Islanders play three of their next four games on the road, but the challenges get scarier as you head into mid-March. Just three of their next 16 games take place in Brooklyn, with a nine-game road trip from Feb. 21 – March 11 standing as the biggest hurdle to clear.

So, yeah, the Maple Leafs’ and Islanders’ schedule argue that these two teams could be feeling very differently in the next few weeks.

Then again, such thoughts cement this as a pretty important win for the Islanders. They might just be able to withstand the challenges ahead if they continue to gather momentum.

‘You feel like you almost break your leg’ — Leafs’ Rielly tweaked injured ankle vs. Bruins

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 06: Morgan Rielly #44 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on January 6, 2017 in Newark, New Jersey. The Maple Leafs defeated the Devils 4-2.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Fresh off a thrilling victory on Saturday, the Toronto Maple Leafs will look to make it back-to-back wins when they face the New York Islanders on Monday.

The Maple Leafs hope to have Morgan Rielly in the lineup.

For now, according to Mark Masters of TSN, it looks like Rielly is expected to play in Brooklyn despite dealing with the affects of a high-ankle sprain that forced the 22-year-old defenseman from the lineup for six games last month.

Rielly was hurt again during last night’s game in Boston, briefly leaving for the locker room before eventually returning.

“His conditioning is good,” said coach Mike Babcock. “He tweaked his ankle and that’s going to happen probably for the next — those high ankle sprains, you’re going to tweak it over and over again.

“I’ve had them before. You feel like you almost break your leg. That’s how bad it hurts and yet he seemed to be OK. He’s going to have to push through of them but obviously he’s an important guy for us.”

Rielly finished last night’s game with just over 22 minutes of ice time.

Meanwhile, defenseman Frank Corrado, who has played only twice for the Maple Leafs this season, has cleared waivers and is now headed to the Toronto Marlies in the AHL, the organization announced Sunday.

Maple Leafs chase Rask from Bruins crease

SUNRISE, FL - NOVEMBER 1: Goaltender Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins watches a replay during first period action against the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on November 1, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. The Bruins defeated the Panthers 2-1. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

It’s been the William Nylander Show in Boston tonight. However, that’s at the expense of Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.

Nylander, who scored a beauty goal in the first period, completed the hat trick in the second period, as the Toronto Maple Leafs took a 4-1 lead courtesy three goals in 1:46, stunning the Bruins and their home crowd.

That fourth Toronto goal meant the end of the night for Rask.

He allowed four goals on 14 shots, and has now allowed three or more goals in each of his last five starts.

Capitals flex their muscles, put Bruins in a tough spot


The Washington Capitals dominated the month of January, leading the league in goals scored, standings points generated and goal differential. If Wednesday’s 5-3 win against the Boston Bruins is any indication, they might just dominate 2017.

While the score wasn’t especially lopsided, the Capitals looked like a juggernaut at times in their eighth consecutive home win.

As the headline states, Washington flexed its muscles, displaying some of the feats of strength that helped them race ahead of the rest of the NHL:

  • One of the league’s best one-two punches at center showed up in a big way. Nicklas Backstrom scored one goal and collected two assists, including a beautiful saucer to set up a T.J. Oshie breakaway goal. Evgeny Kuznetsov was a menace in the latter stages of the game, generating a goal and assist of his own.
  • The Capitals also have that Alex Ovechkin guy, who remains a machine from “his office” on the power play. He scored his 550th career NHL regular season goal on the man advantage.
  • Braden Holtby was pretty sharp, especially at even-strength, stopping 28 of 29 there (while Brad Marchand scored two power-play goals). The workhorse goalie is on a four-game winning streak.
  • The other team needed it more. It didn’t matter.

On that note, the Bruins … yeah, they’re in trouble. Sure, they’re technically in the playoffs as of Wednesday, yet games in hand make you think that this is a dire situation.

Atlantic Division rankings (skipping Montreal because c’mon)

2. Senators – 58 points in 48 games
3. Bruins – 58 points in 54 games

Maple Leafs – 55 points in 48 games
Panthers – 54 points in 51 games
Lightning – 50 in 51
Sabres – 49 in 49
Red Wings – 49 in 50

Really, the Bruins can’t ignore the race for the second wild card spot, either. Anyway, the point is that the Bruins could have at least used a point from this one. Unfortunately, this game came against the Caps, so no dice.

If the loss wasn’t bad enough, it seemed like Tuukka Rask was shaken up by stretching out for a late save while Patrice Bergeron‘s return from a puck to the knee wasn’t totally convincing.

Uh oh, Part 1:

Part 2:

Long story short, the Bruins have plenty to worry about. And the rest of the NHL should absolutely be concerned about the rise of the Capitals.

WATCH LIVE: Bruins at Capitals – Wednesday Night Rivalry

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 07:  T.J. Oshie #77 of the Washington Capitals takes a shot on goal in front of Brandon Carlo #25 of the Boston Bruins in the second period at Verizon Center on December 7, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

With the Columbus Blue Jackets and other strong Metro teams nipping at their heels, the Washington Capitals have plenty to gain in winning tonight. Still, the situation is more urgent for the Boston Bruins.

Yes, the Bruins are currently located in the third spot in the Atlantic, and they’re not that far behind second-place Ottawa (though the Senators have a significant edge in games in hand).

Still, the Toronto Maple Leafs and others pose a serious threat to the Bruins’ playoff hopes, and Claude Julien probably feels some empathy for Ken Hitchcock on a day like this.

It should make for a fun one to kick off a doubleheader on NBCSN on Wednesday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream link.