VANCOUVER, British Columbia — In the midst of a forgettable season, the New York Islanders accomplished a bit of history Monday.
The Islanders, sporting seven rookies on their 24-man roster, scored seven third-period goals to beat the floundering Vancouver Canucks 7-4 at Rogers Arena. The seven-goal period tied the franchise record set Dec. 23, 1978, against the New York Rangers.
“You never know what’s going to happen in this game,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said.
With the Canucks leading 3-0 to begin the third period, the Islanders (25-33-9) scored three power-play goals in the opening 3:36 off the sticks of left winger Josh Bailey, center Ryan Strome and defenseman Calvin de Haan. Strome’s and de Haan’s goals came 22 seconds apart.
New York center Frans Nielsen made it 4-3 at 6:22, one second after the Isles’ fourth power play of the young period expired.
Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev made it 4-4, but 10 seconds later, left winger Matt Martin put the Islanders ahead to stay at 10:04.
“I don’t think so,” Bailey said when asked if he’d ever been on a team that scored so many goals in one period. “Seven is pretty crazy. It’s nice for us to be on the winning side of one of those.”
Islanders center Anders Lee, who has five goals and two assists in seven games since he was called up from the minors, made it 6-4 at 11:45. Right winger Cal Clutterbuck added an empty-netter.
“Things are going well, I’m getting bounces,” Lee said. “Two points tonight, I’m in the right place at the right time, fortunately.
“That third period was back and forth, it seemed like everything was going in. We know, having recently been on the receiving end of something similar, how it could happen.”
Making the Islanders’ overwhelming comeback even more impressive: The team was without three offensive weapons it had just a month ago. Sniper and pending unrestricted free agent Thomas Vanek was dealt away at last week’s trade deadline; leading scorer John Tavares suffered a season-ending injury at the Sochi Olympics; and speedy right winger Michael Grabner left the game in the second period after being elbowed in the head by Tanev.
The Canucks collected two power-play goals while jumping ahead 3-0. Left winger Chris Higgins scored in the first, while centers Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler added goals in the second. Sedin’s came at even strength.
For Sedin, the Canucks captain and a former NHL scoring champion, it was his first goal in 24 games and his first point in 13.
Then a parade to the penalty box began at the end of the second period for Vancouver, and it continued into the third.
Rookie left winger Nicklas Jensen, playing in his second NHL game this season and the fourth of his career, was in the box for slashing when Bailey put the Islanders on the scoreboard at 1:13 of the third.
Jensen was back in the penalty box 18 seconds later for a holding penalty 200 feet from the Canucks net.
“That’s just a young kid trying,” Canucks coach John Tortorella said.
Defenseman Kevin Bieksa joined Jensen for pushing the net off the moorings, and Strome and de Haan scored on the subsequent five-on-three and five-on-four.
Vancouver left winger Tom Sestito had just stepped back onto the ice after serving a minor penalty for boarding when Nielsen made it 4-3 Isles at 6:22.
“We got some bounces, but for us I hope it gives our young guys some confidence,” Capuano said. “I’m just so proud of our will, effort, desire, composure and execution.”
The Canucks (29-28-10) tied a franchise worst with the seven goals against in one period. Wayne Gretzky’s Oilers also managed the feat in 1985 and 1987.
It will take more than a coach’s pep talk for the Vancouver players to move beyond Monday’s total collapse.
“This is a kick in the teeth,” said Tortorella, whose club would need a miraculous run the final 15 games to squeak into the postseason. “We need to be men and find our way.”
NOTES: Entering the game, the Canucks had four players who make a combined $22.45 million this season, who had not scored for a combined 105 games: LW Daniel Sedin ($6.1 million, injured, but no goals in his last 22 games), C Henrik Sedin ($6.1 million, 23 games), Alex Burrows ($6 million, 34 games) and David Booth ($4.25 million, 26 games). Henrik Sedin ended his drought. … Isles LW Matt Martin had six hits Monday. Martin, who led the NHL in hits the past two seasons, is on top again with 292. Two seasons ago, he set a record (since hits became an official statistic in 2005-06) with 374.