Joshua Ho-Sang made his NHL debut tonight in Dallas, and he was there for a fun contest.
The Islanders visited the Stars to pick up their 9-game cross-continent road trip after a 4-day reprieve from game play and a quick stop home.
Anthony Beauvillier was suffering some sort of illness (hopefully not the mumps!) and took a rest. Casey Cizikas remained out, but Cal Clutterbuck and Shane Prince returned from injury. Thomas Greiss got the start in net opposite Antti Niemi.
First Period: Another late-period goal against
Ho-Sang was on for the opening face-off and, in his first corner battle, was promptly crushed by Jamie Benn. A “Welcome to the NHL” moment, as they say. On his second shift, he sent a pass up the middle to Brock Nelson. His initial attempt ended up behind the net with Niemi far away from the crease, and when he retrieved it, he tried to feed Ho-Sang for the gimme as he slid into the middle, but the bouncing pass skipped over his stick.
Ryan Strome got his 12th of the season after Jason Chimera forced a turnover against Benn at the Dallas blue line. Strome picked it up and raced off to a breakaway, slipping the puck five-hole through Niemi.
Calvin de Haan took a high-sticking penalty with just over two minutes left in the frame, and they were about a second or two from killing it off when Tyler Seguin fed Benn in the slot, who painted the top corner with 7.4 seconds remaining in the period.
Second Period: Whoosh
Radek Faksa scored after he slipped behind Scott Mayfield at the blue line. He dumped it into the corner and Patrick Sharp scooped it and sent it to Faksa cutting into the slot. Dallas took the lead 2-1.
Jason Spezza recovered the puck in the corner and sent it out to John Klingberg at the point. Klingberg beautifully conducted the fake-slap-shot-pass to Spezza, who had drifted into the face-off circle and who buried the goal past a sprawling Greiss for a two-goal Stars lead.
Doug Weight was not satisfied with the way his team was playing and decided to shuffle the lines, including a shift of Chimera - Tavares - Ho-Sang. Josh Bailey took a shift with Strome and Andrew Ladd - a flurry down low led to Strome throwing the puck toward the net from the side and Ladd batting it home.
They had a gorgeous shift toward the end of the period that almost culminated in a goal when Scott Mayfield sent a shot-pass toward the front for Bailey that Niemi just got a toe on. As LHHer JBotte said:
that shift tho— john_islesfan (@john_islesfan) March 3, 2017
Third Period: OH HELL YES
The second face-off of the period took place in the Isles zone, and Anders Lee gravitated toward the puck and flew up the ice to set up a rush. His pass went to Nick Leddy, who fired a one-timer that ricocheted off the back boards, Niemi’s skate, and over the line to tie the game.
At around the 12:30 mark, Prince took a puck from the corner and flicked it at the net. The rebound scooted out to the edge of the offensive zone to be picked up and fired by Dennis Seidenberg for the 4-3 lead.
Only two minutes later, Leddy did what he does best (and most beautifully): carried the puck with his smooth stride through the neutral zone and offensive zone. As he floated behind the net, he backhanded it to Nikolay Kulemin driving toward the goal, and he gave the Islanders a two-goal cushion.
The Islanders got a power play late in the period, but it would result in a Dallas goal. A turnover by Johnny Boychuk was grabbed by Benn. Going back the other way, he dangled around Boychuk and through the slot before sending a deceptive backhand shot past Greiss to put the Stars within one.
The Stars swarmed down only a goal and with an extra attacker on, but the Islanders escaped with a 5-4 win in regulation.
Quite a nice comeback, and a much better offensive effort than the horror show their last game in Columbus.
Ho-Sang didn’t record his first point, but he looked very solid to the eye. Interested to see the fancies on his game. Either way, he seemed confident, not scared, and there were a few instances where his heralded playmaking ability shone through. Surely, he’s earned the right to play again tomorrow night.
No time to dawdle, as the Islanders are right back at it tomorrow night in Chicago for an 8:30 rendezvous with the Blackhawks. Their 9-game swing will be more than halfway over after tomorrow night.