What a night for Josh Bailey. The career New York Islanders forward, in his fifteenth season with the club, suited up for his 1,000th game tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. He celebrated the occasion by scoring the game-winning goal en route to a convincing Islanders road victory, their first of the year.
It was a full team effort for all sixty minutes, and if they can replicate every night what they did tonight, or at least something close to it, they’ll be in great shape for the rest of the season. What a night for Bailey, and what a night for the Islanders against a division rival and Stanley Cup contender.
It was the Parise-Pageau-Palmieri line to start the game, but Josh Bailey took the second shift of the game and officially played in game no. 1,000. His line generated one deflected chance for Oliver Wahlstrom. The next dangerous chance came when J-G Pageau gloved down a puck in the neutral zone and went on a two-on-one with Kyle Palmieri. Pageau, his shot cut off by Brett Pesce, attempted to go cross-ice with the pass. It ticked off Pesce’s skate and lined toward the net, but Freddie Andersen alertly gloved it down.
Before the first commercial break, the Hurricanes held the puck the majority of the time but were kept to the outside and didn’t get a dangerous chance until Jordan Martinook’s wraparound try led to a flurry in front. When the Islanders recovered the puck, Martinook tripped up Anders Lee to give the Isles their first power play.
The first unit had a decent chance off of the offensive zone draw, with Palmieri getting an open look. But once the puck came out, the power play didn’t set up again until the final fifteen seconds, unable to gain the zone. On one entry attempt, Bailey and Pageau collided hard at the Carolina blue line, with Pageau getting the brunt.
The fourth line forechecked their way into an excellent chance in front. Cal Clutterbuck just couldn’t handle the puck, though. Throughout the first period and especially for a five-minute stretch after that play, it felt as though nothing was happening, which was a welcome change from Carolina speed-bagging the Islanders in the first period as they normally do.
Then, with around four minutes on the clock, Scott Mayfield and the better Sebastian Aho (our Sebastian Aho, not their Sebastian Aho) combined to nullify the Hurricanes’ forecheck. Mayfield chipped the puck up the wall and got it past new ‘Cane Brent Burns, creating a two-on-one for Wahlstrom and Mathew Barzal. Barzal caught Wahlstrom with a great pass that eluded Jaccob Slavin, and Wahlstrom sniped the top corner.
Butch Goring was effusive in his praise of their first period, saying it was the best period of hockey the Islanders had played against the Hurricanes in years. Thomas Hickey didn’t disagree and emphasized that it was the strongest first period they had played in PNC Arena in a very long time.
Early on, Pageau chipped a puck through the neutral zone and past Dylan Coghlan. The center caught up to it and created a rush chance for himself that Andersen turned aside.
The Islanders continued to hold off Carolina for the first half of the period, but on one rush, Palmieri went down awkwardly in the corner and struggled to get to the bench. The Hurricanes had numbers and tired Islanders, and Martin Necas sneaked behind Adam Pelech to tip past an outstretched Ilya Sorokin a perfect pass from Brady Skjei. The game was tied, but Palmieri returned on his next shift.
The goal woke up the ‘Canes and their raucous crowd, and they hemmed the Islanders in immediately after scoring and then again right out of the next commercial break. However, the new Barzal line, with Bailey and Wahlstrom, pushed the tide back with some pressure of their own; they are quickly gaining chemistry.
Out of the last commercial break, the fourth line flipped the puck into the offensive zone, and Casey Cizikas forechecked hard against Jalen Chatfield, forcing a turnover and drawing a delayed penalty. But as he was falling, he flicked the puck to Matt Martin gliding over the blueline all by himself, and Martin went high over Andersen to give the Islanders back the lead.
That 2-1 lead was short-lived, though; it lasted just 1:06. Carolina didn’t lose its juice this time and came right back with pressure. Burns took one point shot that went wide, but they worked it right back to him for a soft one-timer that ricocheted off Mayfield’s leg and behind Sorokin.
The 2-2 tie was even shorter-lived, just 0:54. The new Barzal line got right back in the offensive zone, with Barzal leading the charge. The Hurricanes had all five guys back and four in a box around the net, but Barzal stopped on a dime and turned around, freezing everyone and causing them to lose sight of Josh Bailey coming into the zone. One Hurricane dove at him and missed, and Bailey deked through some open space, dropping Andersen down and backhanding the puck over him for a great goal and an even better moment.
The Islanders tested their 3-2 lead at the end of the second period with a 5-on-3 kill that lasted more than a minute and a half. Zach Parise took an interference penalty and then Adam Pelech, shoved to the ice as he tried to clear the zone, took a delay of game penalty.
The first chance Carolina had on the 5-on-3 broke Pulock’s stick. He took Pageau’s, but it was essentially 5-on-2 plus a statute. Complicating matters, a clearing attempt went off Pageau, trapping them in the zone longer. After another Carolina barrage, Pulock flipped it to center, enough for Pageau to change, but Pulock and Mayfield were still stuck out there. Eventually, Sorokin was able to get a cover for a wholesale switch. The ‘Canes continued pressure, but Parise returned and blocked a shot, and they finally kill the second penalty almost as the period expired. PK still perfect.
The final frame also featured an early rush for the middle six, this time with Anders Lee springing up with and feeding Anthony Beauvillier for a tip that Andersen caught. On the next shift, the fourth line nearly scored again. Cizikas had a wraparound try on an open night stifled by Chatfield.
The Barzal line again generated offensive zone time and forced Andersen to cover the puck, leading to an offensive zone faceoff for the Brock Nelson line. Nelson won the faceoff and corralled the puck to Anthony Beauvillier before going wide the other way. Beauvillier went cross-ice to Nelson wide open, and Slavin’s stick redirected the pass, but Nelson was still able to get a shot away and rifle it past Andersen. It was the first goal for an Islanders center this season, amazingly, and made the game 4-2. The Islanders had the first seven shots of the period, obviously buzzing from their huge penalty kill to end the second period.
Carolina earned themselves some zone time after the Islanders scored, but there were a couple of collisions that they and their fans thought merited a penalty, including a crushing check by Mayfield on the Finnish Sebastian Aho. More importantly, the Isles and Sorokin kept them off the scoresheet.
The Islanders then put the game away with another goal for Nelson. The puck rimmed around the boards to Noah Dobson at the point. With no one settled yet, Dobson went right point to left circle to find Beauvillier, and Beauvillier made almost the same pass to Nelson that he did on the previous goal. Nelson, again wide open, pushed the puck through Andersen.
There was a moment where Sorokin nearly got caught taking too much time behind the net, but Mayfield kept the puck out. With just over two minutes remaining, Barzal took a cross-checking penalty to give Carolina a power play for almost the rest of the game.
Coming out of the final commercial break, the Hurricanes pulled Andersen for a 6-on-4 advantage. But Mayfield, right off the draw, battled and pushed the puck into the neutral zone, finding Parise for the shorthand empty-netter for a 6-2 final.
For good measure, Sorokin robbed Teuvo Teravainen going side-to-side and Jesperi Kotkaniemi with a stunning glove save off a 3-on-1 created by a failed Pelech clear (although Teravainen missed a wide-open net and hit Sorokin’s pad). His two incredible saves preserved the penalty kill’s perfection and the game-winning goal for Josh Bailey, a feather in the cap of the beloved veteran on his big night.
Sorokin flashes the leather one last time because, why not?! pic.twitter.com/22qn0NC3jR— Isles on MSGSN (@IslesMSGN) October 29, 2022
The Josh Bailey Appreciation Corner
Congratulations to Josh Bailey. What a way to celebrate it, too: a dominating road win against a division rival—who has had their number—where Bailey gets the game-winner (one of you called that today, and bravo for that
, and also tell me what the winning Powerball numbers are). Bailey’s parents were gushing. The broadcast mentioned that the players sounded amped to play a big game for Bailey, and did they ever. You could see how much they care about him based on how everyone congratulated him after the final horn. Martin brought him the game puck, as well. Martin also had some really sweet things to say about his good buddy during the second intermission.
Dressing and playing in 1,000 games are pretty rare in the NHL, and even rarer to do it all in one uniform. He’s the 369th or 371st player to do it, depending on who you believe—the broadcast or the internet—and of course, only the third player to play all those games in an Islanders uniform. Bailey got emotional during the first intermission walk-off interview with Shannon Hogan discussing his parents and his wife being there in the arena and his kids being back home. Honestly, I love the guy, and I’m glad he’s been an Islander going on 15 seasons—which is by far the longest active tenure of any athlete in New York.
The Hurricanes and PNC Arena honored Bailey at the first commercial break, with the crowd clapping not as excitedly as they would for a Hurricane, but still surprisingly loud for a visiting player suiting up for a long-time (because it is the tenth season of the Metropolitan) division rival, with that guy having been around for all of it. It was a nice touch.
Miscellaneous Notes and Thoughts
- Bailey, Mathew Barzal, and Oliver Wahlstrom absolutely feasted tonight when they were on the ice, at least according to my eye. I don’t remember them getting pinned in the zone at all, and they generated chances and zone time all night. I wonder if the numbers back up what I saw.
- Brock Nelson getting off the schneid (with two goals!) could also be huge. If this team is going to make the playoffs, he will probably have to score at least 30 again. I hope and believe that the floodgates have opened.
- Alex Romanov made a nice play to keep alive the play that led to Bailey’s game-winner and earned his first Islanders point in the process.
- The penalty kill remains perfect thanks to a massive 5-on-3 kill at the end of the second period and two incredible Sorokin saves at the end of the third period. They’re extending their own franchise record and are the league’s only remaining perfect PK.
- Thomas Hickey, now officially part of the broadcast, has been a natural with Shannon. Brendan Burke and Butch Goring welcomed him in the third period and ribbed him about buying a rookie dinner. Also, during the post-game, he Freudian-slipped a little and said that tonight’s game was something “that we could build off of,” which made me smile. I love that he still has that passion and loves the Islanders. Probably a bit premature to anoint him Butchie’s successor when he eventually retires, but he’s really good at breaking down the play in simple terms that still clearly reflect what the strategy is; I’ve learned quite a bit.
- Finally, Shannon and Hickey reveled in how excited Butchie was after the game ended, both about the big win and the jaw-dropping save Sorokin made. Butchie continued his on-air joke about Pelech buying a top-notch dinner for his goalie.
- Admittedly, Wednesday’s big win over the Rangers was a little bit of a steal by Sorokin, but this game was a top-to-bottom Islanders domination. It was excellent.
The Islanders are right back at it tomorrow night. They will fly home and host old friend Devon Toews and the defending champion Colorado Avalanche in a 7:30 p.m. puck drop. It’s ‘70s night!