Gibson makes 50 saves, Islanders beat Flames 5-2 to end skid
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Christopher Gibson refused to take all the credit after leading the New York Islanders to a much-needed win.
The rookie goalie made 50 saves as the Islanders beat the Calgary Flames 5-2 to snap an eight-game losing streak.
“Personally it’s great, but hockey is a team game,” said Gibson, who improved his record this season to 1-0-2. “It’s a great feeling. I’m happy that the team won today. I think it was a full team effort. I let out some bad rebounds and guys were there to clear them out.”
It was the second NHL win for Gibson, who went 1-1-1 for the Islanders in the 2015-16 season.
“Ever since he’s been in the organization he’s been a great goaltender and tough to score on,” said forward Anders Lee, who had two goals. “We always know the potential that these (young) guys have, but when you come into the game and play as calm as he has been, it’s been a wonderful surprise.”
Johnny Boychuk had a goal and two assists for the Islanders, who were 0-4-4 since winning at Carolina on Feb. 16. Nick Leddy and Jordan Eberle also scored, and Casey Cizikas and John Tavares had two assists each.
New York pulled seven points behind Columbus for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“To get a win, especially when we’ve been playing one-goal games and going into overtime and losing in a shootout or losing in overtime . something’s got to give, especially if you keep doing the right things,” Boychuk said. “We know we’re in a corner and we have to win as many games as we can.”
Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist for the Flames, who kicked off a three-game homestand after going 2-0-1 on the road last week. Mark Giordano also scored.
“It’s frustrating,” Giordano said. “I think the problem is we’re getting down a lot at home where we’re forced to press a lot because you’re down by a few goals. That was the case again tonight.”
Mike Smith made 22 saves in his return after missing 13 games with a lower-body injury.
“I thought early on there I was a little sloppy, but I felt like I settled in pretty well as the game went on and got more comfortable,” Smith said. “Tonight I think mentally we weren’t engaged enough at the start of the game and it cost us.”
Leddy opened the scoring at 2:14 of the first period when he fired a point shot that deflected off the post and in behind Smith.
Just 18 seconds later, another point shot by Boychuk deflected off Calgary forward Troy Brouwer’s stick and past Smith to make it 2-0.
Gaudreau scored at 7:23 to pull the Flames within one when he took a pass from Sean Monahan before snapping a shot to the short side past Gibson.
The Islanders regained their two-goal advantage 3:02 later as Eberle tipped Boychuk’s shot on net before picking up his own rebound and backhanding the puck past Smith.
Boychuk continued his strong performance early in the second period when he fired another slap shot on net that Smith stopped, but the rebound went right to Lee, who swatted it into the net to put New York up 4-1.
Giordano poked a loose puck in the crease into the net behind Gibson at 7:24 of the third to pull the Flames within two.
The Flames continued to put on the pressure, but weren’t able to get any more pucks past Gibson, who stopped point-blank chances by Sam Bennett and Gaudreau.
Lee then added an empty-net goal with 10.1 seconds remaining.
NOTES: Smith sustained his injury late in Calgary’s 3-2 win over the Islanders in New York on Feb. 11. ... The Flames compiled a 5-6-2 record with Smith out of the lineup. ... In addition to activating Smith off injured reserve, the Flames also assigned G Jon Gillies back to Stockton of the AHL on Sunday. ... Gaudreau snapped a seven-game goal-scoring drought, while extending his point-scoring streak to four games. ... Gibson became the third Islanders goalie this season to have at least 50 saves. Jaroslav Halak made 50 in a 3-0 win over the New York Rangers on Feb. 15 and Thomas Greiss had 52 in a 5-4 overtime win at Montreal on Jan. 15.
Islanders: Host Washington on Thursday night.
Flames: Host Edmonton on Tuesday night.