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Sunday, March 22, 2015

It Happened at the Coliseum … on MARCH 22nd

21 years ago tonight (1994)- In perhaps the biggest comeback in Islander history, the Isles rallied from a 4-0 deficit late in the second period to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-4 at the Coliseum.

Petr Klima and Denis Savard gave the Bolts a 2-0 lead after one period.  Chris Gatton’s goal chased Jamie McLennan just 2:55 into the second, but when Klima scored his 2nd goal at the 12:45 mark, McLennan replaced Ron Hextall, who had replaced him.

Tom Kurvers cut the lead in half with a pair of goals 75 seconds apart late in the second period, but the score remained 4-2 passed the midway point of the third.

The Isles’ top line then got the game even with goals by Derek King and Steve Thomas, 
sending the game into overtime.  Pierre Turgeon, who had earned assists on both King and Thomas’ goals, also got one on the winner, which was scored by Vladimir Malakhov with 1:01 remaining in overtime.

Malakhov’s goal was a rarity in that it allowed the Isles to win a game that they trailed by 4 goals (they have not erased a 4-goal deficit in any game since) and it was the first regular season OT goal ever scored by an Islander defenseman at the Coliseum; the only prior winning overtime goal (regular season) was scored by Stefan Persson in Los Angeles on 12/28/83

"I hope and pray that they learned a lesson from this game" said coach Al Arbour.

The Isles would play 1,459 regular season games before they would erase even a 3-goal lead again (12/29/13 in Minnesota; they would do it again 10 weeks later in Vancouver) and they have never again done so at the Coliseum.

The win was enormously important for the Isles in the context of the playoff race – even with the victory, the Isles remained three points out of a playoff spot:

Atlantic Division  W-L-T  Pts
NY Rangers   44-22-7   95
New Jersey  41-21-11   93
Washington 34-31-8      76
Florida          31-29-12  74
Philadelphia  32-34-7    71
NY Islanders  31-33-9   71
Tampa Bay   25-39-10  60

More coverage from the NY Times here:

Also on this date: (1977) – Bob Bourme, Bryan Trottier and Denis Potvin each scored twice as the Islanders extended their unbeaten streak to six games with a 9-2 win over Colorado.

All-time, the Isles have played nine March 22nd games at the Coliseum and finish with a 4-3-2 record on this date at 1255 Hempstead Turnpike in Uniondale. 

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