The kids are all right as Isles down Devils
Brooklyn’s Young Guns Thrive in Third Straight Preseason Win
When the Islanders lost proven veteran stalwarts like Kyle Okposo, Matt Martin and Frans Nielsen via free agency this past offseason, questions arose as to how Brooklyn’s NHL franchise would fill those considerable holes.
Those concerns are likely to follow the team throughout the early portion of this second season at Downtown’s Barclays Center.
But general manager Garth Snow’s collection of unproven yet highly touted draft picks may ultimately be the elixir for the Orange-and-Blue as they prepare for next Thursday night’s regular-season opener against the rival Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
The Islanders’ young guns continued to strut their stuff Wednesday night as roster hopefuls Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Ho-Sang combined on the game-winning goal in the third period of a 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils at Newark’s Prudential Center.
Beauvillier, selected 28th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft, snapped the 2-2 deadlock off feeds from Ho-Sang, one of the team’s first-round picks in 2014, and veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk, clinching New York’s third exhibition win in as many nights.
“We found a way to win, so it was a good point,” said Beauvillier, who got just over 20 minutes of ice time as a good portion of the team’s regulars took the night off, including team captain John Tavares
“[The Devils] pretty much had their full lineup tonight,” added the 19-year-old winger. “It was a hard game, a hard lineup and those [defensemen] and forwards were tough to play against.”
Ho-Sang, 20, spent about 18 minutes on the ice and 23-year-old Alan Quine, who had a goal and four assists during last season’s playoff run despite playing only two regular season games with the club prior to the postseason, scored an unassisted tally to give the Isles an early 1-0 lead.
“The coaches told me the most important thing was to play my game, so that’s what I tried to do tonight,” said Ho-Sang, who admitted he got a bit excited on a couple of breakaway chances that he ultimately squandered.
“He’s taking the ice that’s available,” Isles head coach Jack Capuano said of Ho-Sang. “We’ll never take away his creativity … five-on-five I thought he managed the puck pretty well.”
Young players like Beuvillier, Ho-Sang, center Mathew Barzal, 19, and defenseman Ryan Pulock, 22, have been pulling their weight throughout this preseason, but the Isles still lean heavily on their more proven commodities.
Andrew Ladd, the team’s biggest free-agent acquisition this offseason, got the Isles even in the second period with a power-play goal after New Jersey took a 2-1 lead.
He stuffed home a rebound off a shot from Pulock midway through the stanza. The goal drew praise from Capuano, who had urged the budding blue-liner to unleash his formidable slapper a bit more than he had in previous exhibition contests.
“When you have a big man in front of the net like [Ladd], and you have a shot like [Pulock] has, it’s going to lead to something,” Capuano said.
“It was good for me tonight to see [Pulock] finally start to use it because there were chances throughout this training camp and he was a little tentative.”
Thomas Greiss made 19 saves for the Isles, who will wrap up their preseason Sunday evening in Washington D.C., a game that will more than likely feature the exhibition debut of Tavares, who spent most of the past month in his native Toronto helping Team Canada secure the World Cup of Hockey championship.
Ben Lovejoy and Adam Henrique scored and Cory Schneider made 30 saves for the Devils, who went 0-2 against the Isles this preseason, including Monday night’s 4-3 defeat at Barclays that was highlighted by Barzal’s third-period game-winning goal.
Isle Have Another: Despite winning two Olympic gold medals with Team Canada, and leading the Islanders to their first playoff series win since 1993 last season, Tavares noted the importance of capturing the World Cup last month. “It’s right up there for me probably right along with the Olympics because I got to play in my home country and in my hometown in a best-on-best tournament,” Tavares told the team’s website following Tuesday’s practice at the Northwell Health Ice Center. Tavares registered a goal and three assists in six games during the tournament, which concluded with a two-game sweep of Team Europe in the title round. “Being healthy throughout the whole tournament was a lot of fun to play in,” he said. “The semifinal and the final, those are the things that as a kid you really dream about playing in, so for me just to really enjoy that experience being in my hometown and playing for my country and obviously to win, so yeah, it was a lot of fun.” … The Isles outshot the Devils, 33-21.
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