CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — On the night Calgary honored former star Joe Nieuwendyk, an inspired new generation of young centers led the Flames to a thrilling victory.
Joe Colborne scored twice and Sean Monahan had the other goal in a furious third- period rally that saw Calgary overcome a 3-1 deficit with less than nine minutes to go to edge the New York Islanders 4-3 on Friday night.
Colborne was not yet born when Nieuwendyk scored 51 goals as a rookie in 1987-88. Nonetheless, the touching ceremony made an impact on the Calgary-born, 2008 first-round pick acquired from Toronto at the start of the season.
“You forget how good he was,” said Colborne, whose first career two-goal game gives him seven goals on the season. “You hear his points and stuff and you almost forget until they walk you through his career, and that was really cool for me.
“I might have felt it a little more than some of the other guys because he was one of my favorites growing up.”
Colborne got the comeback started at 11:29 when he knocked in a rebound off the end boards after Mark Giordano’s point shot missed the net.
After Monahan went forehand to backhand on a pretty play in close to tie it at 14:22, Colborne completed the win, deflecting in Giordano’s slap shot at 15:41.
“Joe Nieuwendyk started the game and Joe Colborne decided that he would finish the game,” said Flames coach Bob Hartley.
Calgary has won seven of its last eight home games.
“Obviously it’s always fun after a win but after a game like that when you’re down and you come back, it feels that much better,” said Monahan, who leads the team with 19 goals. “After those couple goals by us, it felt like they stepped back a little bit. At that point when you have momentum like that, it almost feels like that next goal’s coming and that’s what happened.”
Finnish rookie Markus Granlund also scored for Calgary, which had eight rookies in their lineup for the first time since Dec. 10, 1996.
Kyle Okposo, Colin McDonald and Brock Nelson scored for New York. The Islanders are 1-1-1 with one game to go on a four-game road trip that ends in Vancouver.
Hartley said some words from veteran players at the second intermission got his team going.
“We had a good little talk in the locker room and the boys got back and they were on their toes again,” he said. “When we work, when we drive the net, we’re a pretty solid team. I don’t care how many kids we have in the lineup. It’s all about passion.
“We never quit. I’m pretty proud of my boys.”
The third period unfolded just like it did Thursday night in Edmonton, when the Islanders blew a two-goal lead in a 3-2 loss.
“We just stopped playing,” said Okposo, who leads the team with 26 goals. “We gave up a goal and we stopped moving our feet and stopped going after them. We dominated the game for 50 minutes. There’s no reason we should lose that game.”
Tied 1-1, the Islanders took their first lead early in the second period on an uncharacteristic giveaway by Giordano, which led to a goal by Okposo.
New York took a 3-1 lead to the third period.
“We were playing well until 10 minutes left and they get one, they find a bounce off the end boards and score and we just pucker up,” said Islanders defenceman Thomas Hickey.
It’s the 12th time the Islanders have lost a game in which they held a two-goal lead.
New York made it 3-1 in the second period when Nelson took a feed from Josh Bailey and ripped a wrist shot over Joni Ortio’s glove.
After winning his first NHL game Wednesday, Ortio had 23 saves in his third NHL start. Rookie Anders Nilsson had 19 saves.
Granlund opened the scoring with his second NHL goal while the Flames were short-handed. Paul Byron drew both defensemen and the goaltender toward him before sending a slick pass to Granlund, who was left with an empty net.
New York tied it on a laser of a shot from McDonald from a sharp angle over the shoulder of Ortio and just under the crossbar.
NOTES: Nieuwendyk was honored in Calgary’s Forever a Flame program. Several teammates from the Flames’ 1989 Stanley Cup-winning team were part of the ceremony. … Calgary D Tyler Wotherspoon played his first NHL game. He replaced Dennis Wideman (upper body), who was hurt in Wednesday’s win over Ottawa. Wotherspoon is the fourth Flame to make his NHL debut in the past nine days. … Between the two teams, there were 15 rookies dressed. … Also out of the lineup for Calgary was Jiri Hudler (upper body).