Grabner scored on a breakaway 3:53 into overtime as the Islanders defeated the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 on Tuesday night. The victory came just hours after defenseman Andrew MacDonald was traded to Philadelphia and while winger Thomas Vanek's future was up in the air.
Jets captain Andrew Ladd scored his 16th and 17th goals of the season, tying the game 2-2 with 5:07 left in the third period for Winnipeg. The Jets had won their last two matches.
Earlier in the day, the veteran MacDonald was traded to Philadelphia for center Matt Mangene and a third-round pick in this year's NHL draft, and a second-round pick in 2015.
Vanek, who has 21 goals and 53 points, was then a healthy scratch amid rumors he'll be traded before Wednesday afternoon's deadline.
"I don't really try to think about it," Grabner said of the day's turmoil. "I've been traded before, I've been on waivers. It's business. You can't really influence what happens. ... You have to just stay in the moment, day by day, and after (Wednesday) we'll be all done for at least a couple of months again.
"I've been through this, I've seen people traded on game days. Of course, it's weird. (Vanek) came to the rink with us and then he's told he's not playing. It changes things around. But like I said, we did a great job of focusing on not letting this stuff distract us."
New York captain John Tavares is already out for the rest of the season with a knee injury he suffered playing for Canada in the Olympics.
"It was difficult," Isles coach Jack Capuano said. "I've been around Andrew a long time and watched him grow in this league. He's been a great player for us, a great team guy and a great friend to a lot of guys, so it's tough the first game without him.
"And, obviously, Thomas has been with us since the start of the year. We all know it's a business, and every guy will tell you that we wish him the best of luck, both of those guys."
Ladd scored his first goal after Josh Bailey turned over the puck in the Jets' zone under pressure from defenseman Mark Stuart. Winnipeg's Olli Jokinen then sent a pass up the ice to Ladd, who went in alone on goalie Anders Nilsson and beat him with a low shot on the blocker side.
"I thought we came out tight, but we battled back and got a lot of chances and found a way to get it to overtime," Ladd said. "I think we'll take the positive of getting one point and move on."
In the final three minutes, Nilsson was called for delay of game when he shot the puck over the glass. But the Jets couldn't capitalize on their fifth power play of the game.
Nilsson made 36 saves and Pavelec stopped 24 shots.
The Jets, now 11-3-2 under coach Paul Maurice, who took over after Claude Noel was fired Jan. 12, didn't help or hurt themselves too much in the playoff race. Winnipeg is now one point back of the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference, which is held by the Dallas Stars, who lost 4-2 in Columbus but have a game in hand.
Winnipeg sits at 67 points, tied with the Coyotes and one ahead of Vancouver, which fell to Phoenix 1-0 Tuesday night.
"They were a tough opponent tonight," Jets winger Blake Wheeler said. "And like I said, we're proud of the fact that we were able to rally and get a point."
The Islanders, who were dominating the first period, kept pressuring Pavelec and got a lucky bounce when Ryan Strome's shot went off the backboards and onto McDonald's stick. He fired it home.
New York scored 1:33 into the second period on a goal that was reviewed for a high stick. Lee went in alone on Pavelec, who got a piece of his shot, but the puck went high behind him. Lee put his stick up and knocked it down and into the net for his third goal of the season.
New York got its first power play early in the third period, while Winnipeg had come up empty on four tries at that point. The Islanders couldn't score and the Jets upheld their strong penalty kill, fifth in the NHL heading into the game.
Tuesday marked the Jets' Paul Maurice's 1,100th game as a head coach. ... New York's Eric Boulton injured his hand and didn't return. ... The Jets lost rookie Mark Scheifele to what appeared to be a knee injury.