UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Frans Nielsen’s goal 16 seconds into the second period broke a 3-3 tie and the New York Islanders held on to beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-4 for their first home win this month.
The Islanders came in winless in seven previous home games, last winning at Nassau Coliseum over Calgary on Feb. 27, and with only one victory in their last eight contests overall.
New York quickly fell behind 2-0 before the teams went on to score six goals combined in the first 10 minutes of the opening period.
Ryan Strome, Kyle Okposo, Brock Nelson and Cal Clutterbuck also scored for the Islanders.
Tomas Tatar, Drew Miller, Niklas Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk had Detroit’s goals.
Nielsen put the Islanders in front when his shot from the left wing found room between Detroit goalie Petr Mrazek’s right shoulder and the post. Nielsen’s 14th goal of the season led to Red Wings coach Mike Babcock pulling Mrazek and replacing him with Jimmy Howard. Mrazek had blanked Tampa Bay 4-0 at home on Saturday.
Clutterbuck welcomed Howard with a short-handed breakaway goal at 3:57 to increase New York’s lead to 5-3. Clutterbuck’s seventh goal this season was his first since he scored the winning goal in a 2-1 win over the Flames on Feb. 27.
But the Islanders gave up a power-play goal to Datsyuk at 10:20 of the second to narrow the lead to 5-4.
The goal by Datsyuk, with Nick Leddy in the penalty box for the Islanders, was his 24th of the season. The Islanders hadn’t allowed a power-play goal in 12 games, nullifying 27 straight man-advantages by opponents before Datsyuk’s goal.
Jaroslav Halak, who made 21 saves despite his shaky play at times, managed to deny the Red Wings in the third as the Islanders improved to 45-27-5 to maintain a three-point lead over fourth-place Washington. The Capitals defeated the Rangers at Madison Square Garden 5-2 earlier Sunday.
Halak’s best save was a pad stop on Darren Helm with just over five minutes left in the final period.
The Red Wings fell to 40-23-12, third in the Atlantic Division and seven points behind second-place Tampa Bay.
Tatar opening the scoring 39 seconds into the game before Miller followed with another goal for the visitors at 1:46 to stun the Nassau Coliseum crowd.
Tatar’s team-leading 28th goal came after Halak bobbled the puck after a save, and Tatar was outside the crease to swat in a rebound. Miller’s goal 1:07 later was his fifth of the season.
But the Islanders roared back with two quick strikes. Nelson rifled a shot past Mrazek on the power-play at 4:01, his 19th goal. Strome then tied it at 5:38 with his 16th.
The scoring barrage continued after Detroit’s Danny Dekeyser took a holding penalty and Okposo put the Islanders ahead at 9:02 when a shot from the point deflected into the net off his skate. The goal was upheld after review since there wasn’t a distinct kicking motion.
But the lead was short-lived as Kronwall blasted a shot from the point past Halak 52 seconds later to tie it at 3.
The Islanders held a 10-9 shots lead after the frenetic first and a 22-20 advantage after two periods.
The struggling Islanders came in 1-6-1 in their last eight games. They had just 12 goals in those eight games before the outburst against the Red Wings.
NOTES: Islanders captain and leading scorer John Tavares had three assists. He has 34 goals and 43 assists, four short of his career high in points (81) set in 2011-12. … The Islanders have their most wins since they had 50 victories in 1983-84. … The Islanders scratched defensemen Calvin de Haan and Matt Donovan plus forwards Michael Grabner and Colin McDonald. … The Red Wings scratched forwards Erik Cole and Daniel Cleary and Riley Sheahan plus defenseman Jakub Kindl.