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Islanders power way to weird win vs. Red Wings

Halfway through the third period of Friday’s game, the New York Islanders were down 5-2 to the Detroit Red Wings. It was a familiar situation: despite having two star centers in Mathew Barzal and John Tavares, an atrocious defense and struggling goalies were on the way to dooming the team.

Then Tyler Bertuzzi was whistled for a five-minute major, and the good part of this team took over.

In a ridiculous stretch you can witness in the video above this post’s headline, the Islanders scored an absurd four goals during that five-minute major advantage. With that, the Isles went up 6-5 ... and even that wasn’t enough.

Despite ending with less than two minutes remaining in the third period, the Islanders’ defense buckled once more to allow the tying goal. Brock Nelson’s hat trick goal was the 7-6 overtime game-winner in a truly baffling display of, essentially, all that’s gone well and poorly for this confusing team this season.

Also confusing: the Bertuzzi situation itself.

As you can see, Cal Clutterbuck drew the penalty on Bertuzzi ... and he didn’t make any friends in the process.

Bertuzzi expressed his regrets for slashing Clutterbuck, even though he didn’t think it should be a major.

As the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James reports, Bertuzzi’s teammates agree.

Pretty zany stuff, right down to the game being sent to overtime after all of that. Oh yeah, there was also this odd fight:

Beyond the drama surrounding Clutterbuck and Bertuzzi, this night stands as a lucky win for the Islanders, even if it’s hardly an example of them cleaning up problems that have been plaguing them all season.

And those issues have been especially rough lately, particularly when Thomas Greiss has been in net instead of Jaroslav Halak. The Isles’ goalies have been bad far too often, yet it’s not just on them, as the defense has been porous. Coming into Friday, the Islanders were allowing an NHL-worst 35.3 shots against per game, four more than the 31.2 they’re producing. So it’s not merely about this being “live by the sword, die by the sword.” There’s clearly a balance issue for the Isles.

How much of it is on Doug Weight, the personnel, or the goalies? It’s tough to put a percentage on each concern, but you wonder if management is cringing at all of this, especially with Tavares’ future hanging in the balance.

The Islanders are a mess. At least on nights like these, they’re a fun mess.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.