The Islanders needed a win tonight against a good Stars team that played the night before. Had they come away with 0 points, it was a possibility they would have been outside the playoff picture for the first time since October.
But thanks to Anthony Beauvillier, with the help of some of his friends, they got two points tonight and created a little more breathing room between themselves and ninth in the East.
Tonight was a little extra fun because Kieffer Bellows made his NHL debut, and even got a point out of it. The team’s positive result makes it even more memorable.
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The Islanders got off to a really fast start against the Stars—so quick, in fact, that they took the lead a minute and a half in.
Ryan Pulock found Jordan Eberle at the blue line as Anthony Beauvillier slipped into the offensive zone behind the Dallas defense. Eberle led Beauvillier with a pass and Beauvillier flipped a nice backhand past Ben Bishop.
Beauvillier.— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 5, 2020
New York proceeded to dominate the period, at one point leading the shot-on-goal count 16-3 with help from some well-executed power play opportunities. But their lack of pure shooting ability has become a common theme. They weren’t able to put any more distance between themselves and a tired but talented Stars team, and Dallas got one on the board before the end of the first.
The Stars were awarded a power play after Casey Cizikas interfered with Roope Hintz whilst painfully blocking a shot off the top of his skate. On the kill, both Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey meekly poked at clearing attempts near the blue line, not hard enough to get it out. They got away with it the first time, but not the second.
Hintz got the puck down low to Corey Perry. Perry fired a blind pass through the slot to Alexander Radulov and Radulov’s shot beat Semyon Varlamov over to the other side of the net.
Play was a bit more even in the second period, but the Stars took their first lead of the night off an odd-man rush.
Nelson was trying to hit Devon Toews with a pass at the Stars’ blue line but old friend Blake Comeau tipped it enough to keep it away from Toews, whose momentum was taking him away from the play. He got back as the second man but got hung up with Comeau, allowing Jason Dickinson to one-time Andrew Cogliano’s pass past Varlamov.
The lead was short-lived, though, courtesy of the revamped third line and some good fortune.
Kieffer Bellows carried the puck over the Stars blue line and into the corner, trying to give off to Michael Dal Colle. Dal Colle lost that battle but Bellows prevented Dallas from exiting the zone and the puck found its way to Dal Colle again. He passed to Derick Brassard along the goal line and his fluky shot sneaked between the near post and Bishop’s leg less than a minute and a half after Dallas took the lead.
Secondary assist added for @BellowsKieffer! His first #NHL point! https://t.co/77Mp66WHjJ— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 5, 2020
Bellows did not initially get awarded his first NHL point. But during the second intermission, the official scorers decided he did touch the puck before Dal Colle got to it, and he was credited with the secondary assist.
Early in the third, the teams played, as the broadcast described it, chess. But the Stars began to generate some pressure and John Klingberg gave Dallas the lead with a one-timer from the point. It appeared that Varlamov was trying to use his stick to make the save while redirecting it into the corner. Unfortunately, though, he redirected it into his net. The result was that it was a bit of a howler and that the Stars had gotten the lead back.
This Dallas lead lasted a little while longer. But the Islanders power play, which was 0/4 at that point but had generated plenty of zone time, finally converted on its last chance. Twice, as a matter of fact!
It appeared that Nelson had converted the man advantage when he received a pass in the slot. His wicked wrist shot beat a standing Bishop, who just appeared to be screened. However, upon Rick Bowness’ challenge, it was clear that Anders Lee had bumped into Bishop, enough to be considered goaltender interference.
It didn’t deter the Isles’ comeback efforts, though, and they did convert that power play for real this time. Toews fired a shot off the back boards from the point and Mathew Barzal, waiting down low, took the puck off the boards between his legs and past Bishop. It was very pretty, and the game was tied.
HOW. DID. HE. DO. THAT. pic.twitter.com/h3vSo22rSU— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 5, 2020
The opening play of overtime nearly saw the Islanders give away the extra point, but Varlamov made a huge save. Through the first half of overtime, there were few dangerous chances beyond that first one, if any.
But Beauvillier, similar to his first goal, found a way to slip past the defense again. Nelson stole the puck at the Stars blue line and caught Beauvillier cheating into wide open ice. His speed had Bishop scrambling just enough that Beauvillier was able to pick his corner on Bishop’s blocker side and the second point was secured.
.@titobeauvi21 ON THE BREAKAWAY IN OT WAS THE BEST MOMENT OF THE GAME! pic.twitter.com/NtULuduwr4— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 5, 2020
- Anthony Beauvillier was the hero tonight and with two goals, including the game-winner, it is well-deserved. Glad that he’s heated back up again.
- Jordan Eberle, too, is officially back. He had two more assists tonight, including a beautiful feed on the opening goal.
Semyon Varlamov was pretty good tonight. A couple huge saves, and a couple goals he’d like to have back, to varying degrees. Average goaltending suffices for most teams in the NHL, but the Isles’ system kind of requires that the goaltending be above average, including making most of the easy saves. Ideally, the kinks work themselves out before the playoffs.
The hallmark of the Islander system is getting great goaltending, and over the last 10 games they've gotten a league average .909 performance. Some of that is on the defense, of course. And not that they needed anything to compound their scoring troubles, but so it goes.— Carey Haber (@habermetrics) February 5, 2020
Congratulations to Kieffer Bellows on his first NHL point in his first NHL game. Hope they grabbed the puck for him after the goal, just in case, because he didn’t find out about it until the post-game scrum.
Asked Kieffer Bellows in post-game scrum who had informed him he had gotten his first NHL point with an added secondary assist on Brassard's goal.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) February 5, 2020
He perked up, looked at me and said, "You."
Congrats Kieffer. Enjoy
Aside from the point, he looked good. Like he belonged, even. But as Barry Trotz notes, it’s only one game. Here’s hoping he can become a stabilizing force in the Islanders’ forward corps.
#Isles Kieffer Bellows had one assist and was a plus-1 with one shot in 9:10 over 13 shifts in his #NHL debut.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) February 5, 2020
Said Barry Trotz: "He looked like he belonged. But that’s one game, a very small sample. The adrenaline is there. The excitement. The trick is to maintain it."
The Islanders wrap up this three-game Barclays Center set against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night. It’s a 7:00 p.m. start. I’d call those two points necessary, considering the next two games are at the Lightning and at the Capitals.