The second half of the home-and-home series was unkind to Toronto and its fans.
Just 48 hours after the Leafs trumped the New York Islanders at Barclays Center, John Tavares and his team returned the favour in their visit to Toronto. The result was a 6-3 triumph for the Islanders.
Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier struggled, stopping only eight of the 14 shots that were directed his way. He was replaced by James Reimer at the beginning of the third period.
It took only two minutes, and the Islanders’ second shot of the game, for New York to get on the scoreboard. Brock Nelson found the five-hole past Bernier to open the scoring. However, the Leafs responded 39 seconds later as Brad Boyes collected a rebound in the crease to notch his third goal of the year.
Tavares reclaimed the lead for the visitors, showing some incredible hand-eye coordination to deflect a pass from Josh Bailey for his 14th goal of the year. Before the first period was over, Frans Nielsen used his speed to whizz by Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf before deking Bernier to extend the Islanders’ lead to 3-1.
PA Parenteau brought the Leafs to within a goal just past the midway mark of the second period. But the joy for the season-high Air Canada Centre crowd of 19,899 was short-lived. Just 28 seconds later, Bernier turned the puck over, behind the net, to Nielsen. Former Leaf Nikolay Kulemin was the beneficiary of Nielsen’s centring pass, making no mistake into a wide open net.
Late second period goals by Matt Martin and Anders Lee put the game out of reach for New York.
Reimer stopped all six shots he faced in the final twenty minutes. A late third period goal by Shawn Matthias rounded out the scoring.
“They scored on their chances early. I thought we didn’t play as good as we should have,” coach Mike Babcock said after the game. “We knew they were going to be better than they were last game. We talked about it. We tried to prepare for that. They were quicker and dug in harder and we didn’t respond as good.”