Canucks fall to Isles on Kuhnhackl's unusual night
Leipsic, Virtanen respond for Vancouver in losing effort
Coming off three straight losses, the New York Islanders fell behind early. They took the lead with two quick goals and then pulled away in the third period for a confidence-building win.
Tom Kuhnhackl scored two unusual goals to lead the Islanders to a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.
"We definitely didn't have the start we wanted," Kuhnhackl said. "After they scored that first goal we had a great response throughout that first period. We knew they were going to have a push in the second period. We just had to weather the storm."
Jordan Eberle had a goal and an assist, and Josh Bailey and Cal Clutterbuck also scored for the Islanders, who had won five straight before their losing streak. Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson each had two assists and Thomas Greiss stopped 22 shots.
Watch highlights of the Canucks' loss to the Islanders
"Just because it's not April doesn't mean it's not a must-win," Clutterbuck said. "You don't want to give a five-game winning streak back. We knew today we had to dig in and win it."
New York improved to 5-0-2 in the last seven meetings with Vancouver.
Brendan Leipsic had a goal and an assist, and Jake Virtanen also scored for the Canucks, who have lost two straight after a 4-0-2 stretch. Jacob Markstrom, starting for the ninth consecutive game with Anders Nilsson injured, finished with 29 saves.
Vancouver, coming off a 2-1 loss across town against the Rangers on Monday night, fell to 1-2-2 on a six-game trip.
"This was deflating," Canucks coach Travis Green said. "It was one of those nights. I like how we battled back. But down two on the road, you can be a little tired. It was a disappointing loss."
Kuhnhackl got his second of the game at 3:26 of the third period as Eberle's pass from the right corner deflected off Kuhnhackl's stick, a Vancouver defenceman's stick, and then Kuhnhackl's skate and in to push the Islanders' lead to 4-2. The goal stood after a video review, giving Kuhnhackl his first career multi-goal game.
Clutterbuck scored a power-play goal with 2:54 left, the Islanders' first in four games with the man-advantage. It was also Clutterbuck's first goal since Jan. 13 against the Rangers.
"It's been a while," he said. "The worst thing is there's a lot of self-doubt that creeps in. Ten games, 15 games is one thing, but when it's that long you begin to doubt your own ability. ... It's a big relief."
Trailing 3-1 after one period, the Canucks pulled within one on a power-play goal early in the second as Virtanen knocked in a rebound in front for his eighth of the season at 2:51.
Kuhnhackl's beauty swipe
Leipsic got the Canucks on the scoreboard first, taking a pass from Michael Del Zotto at the bottom of the left circle and beating Greiss up high for his second of the season 2:48 into the game.
The Islanders went ahead with two goals 45 seconds apart. Kuhnhackl tied it on a delayed penalty on Vancouver as he swiped a backhander from his knees while falling down below the left circle, and the puck managed to sneak in between Markstrom's right pad and the post at 5:11.
"I tried to spin away from the defenceman, and I thought I got tripped and they got a penalty," Kuhnhackl said, "so I just tried to throw it on net and I was fortunate enough the puck went in."
New York went ahead when Bailey tried to send a pass across to Anders Lee at the right side of the net, but the puck deflected off the skate of Vancouver defenceman Christopher Tanev and in at 5:56. Barzal's assist on the play gave him 100 points for his career.
Eberle pushed the Islanders' lead to 3-1 as he took a pass from Nelson from the left corner and poked it past Markstrom from the right side in front with 5:10 left in the opening period. Nelson got his 200th career point.