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Islanders 3, Ducks 2 (OT): Josh Bailey saves home opener with highlight winner

An evenly played game saw the Ducks force OT late before Bailey sliced through the Ducks to save the day.

Anaheim Ducks v New York Islanders
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

“That might be one of the best goals of Josh Bailey’s career.”

So said Butch Goring, describing Bailey’s overtime winner as he slipped around Corey Perry, deked Andrew Cogliano out of his shorts, and tucked the puck into the net behind John Gibson to hand the Islanders their first victory and two points of the 2016-17 season.

That result quickly healed the wound of the Islanders coughing up a 2-0 lead in the third period. Most of the game was 1-0 — and evenly played overall, though the Isles dominated the first 20 minutes — after Brock Nelson’s goal in the first period. But things got silly after John Tavares doubled the lead eight minutes into the third period.

Cam Fowler’s seeing eye shot brought the game to within one just 31 seconds after Tavares’ insurance goal. Then the Ducks kept pressuring, and a Ducks goal with one minute remaining erased the insurance.

[Game Sum | Event Sum | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz ]

The Ducks worked the puck well with the sixth attacker, and the Isles sat in a pretty conservative posture, and Sami Vatanen’s no-look pass across the zone set up Ryan Getzlaf for a one-timer. They credited it to Getzlaf, but video evidence argues otherwise. It looked like it went in off Jaroslav Halak’s pad after a double deflection, changing direction off of (possibly) Travis Hamonic and (definitely, I swear) Corey Perry’s sticks in front.

But then Bailey struck.

Nick Leddy ran an overlap in the offensive zone with Bailey as Leddy dropped the puck to him before going off for a change. Even though it was in the offensive zone, that move seemed to lull the Ducks into complacency, and Bailey sensed it. He drove around the right wing, went for some dekes rather than a shot from outside, and brought Barclays Center to its feet.

Tavares Gets 1st Point...on Checking Line

The Islanders had to mix up their lines a bit after Casey Cizikas went down after blocking a shot in the back of his leg. Cizikas returned to survive two shifts in the third period, but that was all for his night.

And that’s how Tavares ended up scoring the second goal, and his first of the season, skating between Cal Clutterbuck and Nikolai Kulemin.

It was a fantastic play by Clutterbuck, too. His stick broke as he tried to unleash a shot from the slot, but he followed through by kicking the puck to Tavares while fending off defensemen, and that allowed Tavares to slap a rebound around Gibson.

The shift back to Anthony Beauvillier, with Mathew Barzal sitting amid the rotating audition of 19-year-olds, meant Ryan Strome was back at center. One of the combos he saw in the post-Cizikas third was with Anders Lee and Jason Chimera. Not saying that’s an ideal combo, but it was good to see Strome at center by force, in a “don’t think, just act” mode.

Special Teams

Both teams whiffed on four power play chances. The Islanders mounted five shots, the Ducks seven. So the Isles PK continued to shut the door, though they of course needed help from Halak, who looked on his way to a shutout before two goals from outside changed the course of the night.

Still, pretty sure the tying goal took a deflection or two.

Toolboxes Out

Anaheim is a team of a...certain reputation. And in a close game between winless opponents — one of which includes notorious tool Perry — no surprise that it got chippy.

Ryan Kesler, as he is wont to do, was one of the tools, with a visible after-the-play chop down on Tavares’ left glove.

Sold Out But Late in Getting There

The game was officially listed as a sellout, and the building looked packed for the final two-thirds, but it took a while to get there. The 6 p.m. Sunday start showed a lot of orange giveaways on empty seats as the game got underway. Not a good look, but then again no one outside of diehards is watching hockey at 6 p.m. on a Sunday.

The Man Behind the Yes! Yes! Yes!

Wrestler Daniel Bryan, whose “Yes! Yes! Yes!” chant was the original inspiration for what rabid Islanders fans adapted and spread throughout the whole Coliseum (and then, Barclays), was a special guest at the game and appeared on the MSG+ broadcast.

If you missed it, our Mark D explained the back story a couple of years ago.

Next Up

This was the start of five straight games at home for the Isles, part of a home-heavy October. Next visitor is the Sharks on Tuesday night.