By Judy Owen, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Jordan Eberle had a feeling the New York Islanders could pull off a comeback against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night. He did his part to ensure that happened.
Eberle and Casey Cizikas scored 33 seconds apart in the final two minutes of the third period to propel the visiting Islanders to a 5-4 win.
“Just the mindset of our bench, you could feel it,” Eberle said. “We felt like we were going to come back. We liked the way we were playing. We were creating chances.”
Cizikas took advantage when Winnipeg couldn’t clear the puck and scored at 18:14 of the third to make it 4-4. Eberle recorded his second goal of the game at 18:47 when he got into the crease and beat Connor Hellebuyck.
Eberle also picked up an assist and Ryan Pulock had three assists. Mathew Barzal ended a 19-game goalless drought with his 11th of the season for the Islanders (45-26-7).
Anders Lee scored his 28th for New York, which moved two points ahead of Pittsburgh and into second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Islanders are three points back of Washington.
Robin Lehner stopped 33 shots for the Isles.
“Wow. Wow. This is absolutely incredible,” Lehner said. “I know nothing is done yet, but we really needed this one.
“They’re such a great hockey team over there. They were dangerous all night and we scrambled together and didn’t give up. It’s one of the most fun wins I’ve had in a long, long time. So proud of this group, man. This was a huge game for us.”
Adam Lowry and Brandon Tanev each had three-point outings for Winnipeg. Lowry scored twice and added one assist, while Tanev had one goal and a pair of assists.
“Good start, bad finish, so it’s frustrating,” Lowry said.
Mark Scheifele recorded his 36th goal of the season for the Jets and Nathan Beaulieu and Jacob Trouba each had a pair of assists.
Hellebuyck made 39 saves for Winnipeg (45-28-4), which is two points ahead of idle Nashville for first place in the Central Division.
“We got a little loopy, a little careless and they were able to capitalize,” Jets captain Blake Wheeler said of the 33-second lapse.
“When they tie the game, we’ve got to be mature enough to shut the game down and get a point and time to battle it out in overtime or a shootout. We’ve done that a few times now. That’s something we can learn from.”
The third-line duo of Lowry and Tanev sparked Winnipeg to a 2-0 lead.
Lowry put the Jets up 1-0 just 13 seconds into the game when Tanev’s wraparound led to a rebound and the puck went off Lowry’s skate. A review showed no kicking motion.
Lowry netted his 11th goal of the season when he redirected a Trouba shot past Lehner at 6:11 of the first.
Barzal broke his scoring drought four minutes later with a quick shot from the slot that beat Hellebuyck on the blocker side to make it 2-1. He also picked up one assist.
While a pair of Islanders each had a stick break, Tanev took advantage of their misfortune to score his first goal in 18 games at 3:46 of the second period.
New York soon had a two-man advantage for 1:32. Sixty-one seconds into it, Lee tipped a Pulock blast to cut Winnipeg’s lead to 3-2 at 6:06.
The Islanders ended the middle period with their fourth power play of the game that carried over into the third, but didn’t deliver the equalizer.
Winnipeg used its third power play of the game for Scheifele’s tip of a Trouba shot at 6:46 of the third, but Eberle buried a rebound 63 seconds later for the 4-3 score.
“You look at what we could have done better, but at the same time you go to practice with your head held high and move on to the next one,” Tanev said.
Winnipeg finishes a four-game homestand (1-2) Saturday when it plays its final game of the regular season at Bell MTS Place against Montreal. The Islanders return home to host Buffalo the same day.