NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Islanders pulled out a wild one here Thursday night, a 4-3 win they worked hard for and very much needed.
Brock Nelson's goal with 6:13 left snapped a 3-3 tie after the Islanders gave up a 3-1 lead in a 31-second span earlier in the third.
The Isles had what seemed like a huge goal off a great feed from Frans Nielsen to Nick Leddy, who beat Pekka Rinne at 8:39 of the third for a 3-1 lead.
Just 2:08 later, the game was tied. Ryan Ellis' high blast caromed off Mike Ribeiro and past Jaro Halak, a lucky goal that was upheld on review at 10:16.
At 10:47, the Isles' back-checkers forgot about Craig Smith, who took a pass and beat a helpless Halak to tie the game.
The Islanders were stunned, but got their bearings. Johnny Boychuk sent Michael Grabner in off the wing; Rinne stopped his blast but kicked a rebound right out to Nelson, who snapped home his 18th of the season at 13:52 for another Islanders lead.
The Islanders' advantage after two periods was the same 2-1 score as it was after the first, but the periods could not have been more different. Mostly due to the work of captain John Tavares, who was a dynamo in the middle period.
Tavares did take a late holding penalty in the second and Boychuk got just enough of Mike Fisher's stick at the side of the Isles' net to keep the game from being tied. Even with that late chance, the Isles owned the second, outshooting the Predators 12-5.
The 2-0 lead the Islanders grabbed in the first was an unlikely development. Nashville came into the game losers of four straight -- they had just 17 regulation losses all season -- and surrendered the top spot in the NHL to the Ducks during its skid. Peter Laviolette's team came out strong, with Matt Cullen streaking in alone barely 40 seconds into the game. He rang a shot off the post behind Halak.
The Predators had a 10-1 shot edge near the midway point of the period, but then that Tavares fella popped up. Lubo Visnovsky sent a pass from the point behind the Nashville net to Tavares, who reversed ice quickly and got Rinne moving the wrong way.
Tavares circled the net and had room to bank a shot off Rinne and in for his 31st goal of the season, tying his career high and giving the Isles the lead at 11:24.
With their first power play of the game in the final two minutes of the period, Tavares and the Isles struck again.
Nielsen burst into the Nashville zone with good speed and dished to Tavares, who spun on the side wall to get the Predators' penalty killers moving away from the puck. Tavares set up Leddy at the point with room and his shot was neatly tipped home by Lee for his 22nd of the season, one off the rookie goal lead, at 18:30.
If they could have gotten to intermission with that two-goal lead, it would have been something, given the lopsided play for much of the first. But sloppiness in the final seconds allowed the Predators on the board.
Colin McDonald had a chance to clear the zone with nine seconds to go and he flubbed the pass. Seth Jones spun it back near the Isles' net, a scramble ensued and Colin Wilson whacked the puck over the goal line with 1.2 seconds left in the first for a deflating goal.