NEW YORK -- Again and again, the Islanders stormed into the Wild's zone in the first period to swarm the net with bodies and pucks -- pressure that made it look like only the visitors were finishing off a back-to-back when in fact this was also second contest the hosts were logging in as many days.
"We were defending way too much, especially in the first half of the game," winger Zach Parise said. "It felt like they didn't even need to scrape the other end. It was too much time in our own zone."
And yet less that a minute into the second, both teams were even.
But the lift the Wild received from a Mikael Granlund power play goal quickly evaporated.
That's because a penalty just 50 seconds later gave New York an extra attacker, and the Metropolitan Division leaders capitalized to seal a 2-1 win in front of 13,825 at Barclays Center on Sunday -- a decision that split the weekend for the Wild and kept them in the second wild card-spot after they fell from the first slot following a win by the Blues earlier in the day.
Both teams have 59 points, but St. Louis has two games at hand.
"We get the momentum and then all of a sudden, it's turned right around," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "That happens so often to this team, whether the penalty is warranted or not."
Granlund shrugged off a 14-game goalless drought with his first tally since Jan. 7 a brief 38 seconds into the middle frame when he buried a setup from winger Jason Zucker near the back post before Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss had time to reset to that side.
"That was a great pass," said Granlund, who has three goals in his last 39 games. "I had a wide-open net."
An ensuing holding penalty by defenseman Anthony Bitetto on winger Jordan Eberle, however, put the Wild back in defense mode and at 2:01, Islanders defenseman Devon Toews converted on a one-timer.