It probably was not the way the New York Islanders drew it up, but they were able to get a massive 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night thanks to Ryan Pulock‘s game-winning goal with just 41 seconds to play in regulation.
Pulock’s goal came less than a minute after Philadelphia’s Sean Couturier tied the game for the Flyers, erasing what had been a three-goal deficit.
Getting the win in regulation is huge for the Islanders when it comes to potential playoff positioning — it is a four-point swing in the standings — and keeps them in the third spot in the Metropolitan Division with still two games in hand over the Flyers.
The Islanders stormed out of the gates in this one, scoring three goals in the first 15 minutes thanks to goals from Josh Bailey, Matt Martin, and Jordan Eberle.
Eberle’s goal came when he pounced on a rebound following a ridiculous, highlight reel sequence by linemate Mathew Barzal where he flipped the puck in the air to himself, skated through the middle of the Flyers’ defense, and managed to get a shot on goal.
At that point it looked as if the rout was going to be on.
The Flyers, however, managed to push the pace of the game in their favor and gradually chip away at the Islanders’ lead. When Couturier tied it with less than 90 seconds to play it looked like they had every bit of momentum rolling in their favor. But momentum is only as good as the next play, and the next play ended up going the Islanders’ way when Pulock absolutely blasted a slap shot by Brian Elliott for the game-winner.
Barzal set him up with his third assist of the game.
Leo Komarov added an empty-net goal with four seconds to play.
Along with the offensive stars of the night — Barzal, Eberle, Pulock — starting goalie Semyon Varlamov also played a strong game, stopping 35 out of 38 shots, including a handful of highlight reel saves. Don’t let the three goals against on the stat sheet fool you — the Islanders leaned on him heavily in the second and third periods and left him with little margin for error.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.