For the first time in his NHL career, Calgary Flames goaltender Reto Berra didn't have to work overtime to earn a victory.
Berra stopped 28 shots Thursday night in a 4-2 victory against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. It was the Swiss rookie's eighth victory, but the first one that didn't come in overtime or a shootout.
"People are talking about it, I guess," said Berra, who will play for Switzerland at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. "Every time I play, I just want the two points, no matter how long it takes. A win is a win.
"In Switzerland it would've been more of an issue because there you get three points for winning in 60 minutes and only two after. Here, it's all the same. Two points, however. But I have to say, it feels really good to have a win in 60 [minutes]."
David Jones scored the go-ahead goal with 5:32 remaining. Matt Stajan's shot from along the goal line to the left of goaltender Evgeni Nabokov leaked through the goaltender's pads after it went off the shin pad of Jones, who was in the crease, breaking a 2-2 tie. It was Jones' ninth goal of the season.
The Islanders protested that Nabokov had been interfered with, but to no avail.
"I understand it's bang-bang and it's tight, but obviously from what we saw we thought maybe it was goalie interference," captain John Tavares said. "Whether it's a penalty or not, I just thought it didn't give Nabby a chance to make the save."
Mikael Backlund hit the empty net with three seconds remaining for the Flames (22-28-7), who've won six of their past seven games. Nabokov stopped 18 shots for the Islanders, who have dropped six of seven. New York (22-29-8) failed to score on five power plays, extending its drought with the extra man to 0-for-30.
"We were unbelievable in PK," said Berra, who benefitted from 26 blocked shots by his teammates. "I [didn't have] many shots there. They had what, five power plays? But not many shots on the net. Our guys were blocking everything. It shows character; we have guys who'll do everything for the win and for the Flames."
New York trailed 2-1 after two periods but tied the score 7:31 into the third when rookie defenseman Calvin de Haan scored his second of the season. John Tavares' passout found de Haan at the top of the left circle, and the defenseman's wrister caught the far corner past Berra.
The assist ended a four-game point drought for Tavares, his longest of the season.
Rookie Sean Monahan and Dennis Wideman scored late in the second period to give the Flames a 2-0 lead. Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey halved the margin with 6.1 seconds remaining before intermission.
The Islanders outshot Calgary 11-5, out-attempted the Flames 25-12 and had both power plays in the scoreless first period. They held the Flames without a shot on goal for a span of 11:42 and controlled most of the play, but managed few good scoring chances. Berra's best save came near the midpoint of the period when he got his body in front of Kyle Okposo's wrister from the slot; the rebound fluttered toward the goal line but was cleared by the defense.
"We didn't have a great first period, but Reto was outstanding," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "He kept us in the game and gave us a chance to come back in the second period."
It was more of the same over the first 14-plus minutes of the second period, with the Islanders dominating play but unable to get a puck past Berra. The Flames finally took advantage of a rare incursion into the New York zone to open the scoring at 14:15.
Kris Russell's straightaway slapper from just inside the blue line hit someone in front as players from both teams jockeyed for position in front of the net. The puck bounced onto the stick of Monahan, who chopped a high shot that Nabokov never saw for his 16th of the season. It came on the Flames' eighth shot of the game.
"We started to work. We started skating better and we got back into the game," Hartley said.
Berra made his best save of the period with 3:20 left when he denied Tavares' one-timer after a perfect passout from Thomas Vanek.
The Flames got their first power play 21 seconds later when Hickey was called for holding the stick, and Calgary turned it into a 2-0 lead. Wideman scored his fourth of the season with 1:52 remaining by picking the top corner from the slot after a weak clearing attempt by Frans Nielsen didn't get out of the zone.
"When you get pucks to the net, good things happen," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "That's how they scored all their goals. There were no breakdowns. They got pucks to the net and we didn't. We passed up a lot of chances."
Hickey made amends by getting the Islanders on the board before the second period ended. Colin McDonald fed Josh Bailey, whose attempted shot from in tight rolled across the crease and was put home by the second-year defenseman for his fourth goal of the season.
Material from team media was used in this report