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Ladd finally gets off schneid in Brooklyn

Free Agent Hoping for More Production After Ending Scoring Drought

November 8, 2016 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Islander forward Andrew Ladd hadn’t scored a goal since last April, when he helped the Chicago Blackhawks beat St. Louis in Game 6 of a first-round playoff series. AP photo
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Game No. 13 turned out to be lucky for Andrew Ladd.

Brooklyn’s biggest free-agent pickup of the offseason had spent his first dozen contests searching, at times desperately, for his first goal as an Islander after inking a seven-year, $38 million pact to help offset the offseason loss of a trio of veteran forwards.

The 30-year-old winger finally lit the lamp midway through the third period Monday night at Downtown’s Barclays Center, capping the scoring in the Islanders’ skid-ending 4-2 triumph over the slumping Vancouver Canucks in front of 12,514 fans on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

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“Sometimes all it takes is one and then you go from there,” said Ladd, who has averaged just about 20 goals per season during his first decade in the NHL. “So definitely, definitely, a nice feeling.”

Ladd, who had been consistently frustrated in his previous attempts to net goal No. 1 with the Isles, followed Cal Clutterbuck’s tiebreaking go-ahead tally with his first goal since April 23, when he helped Chicago beat St. Louis in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

Adding to his goal-scoring woes, Ladd had managed only one assist in the prior 12 contests as well, making general manager Garth Snow’s decision to sign him to a long-term deal appear even more questionable than it was originally thought to be.

Fortunately for Ladd, his goal not only ended a personal drought but helped New York (5-6-2) avert a dismal 1-4 showing on its second five-game homestand of the young season.

The Isles had lost three straight here, two via shootout, and were clinging to a tenuous one-goal advantage with 9:50 remaining in the third when Ladd beat Vancouver netminder Ryan Miller with a one-timer off a feed from defenseman Johnny Boychuk.

Jason Chimera, another free-agent pickup, also got his first goal as an Islander in the opening period to deadlock the game at 1-1.

Though his drought wasn’t being met with anything approaching the same scrutiny as Ladd’s, the 37-year-old forward was also relieved to eliminate the zero from his goals scored column.

“It was a little longer [to get the first goal] than I’d hoped,” admitted Chimera, who is hoping to help Ladd and the rest of the team make up for the free-agent defections of Matt Martin, Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen this past summer “It was nice to get it for sure.”

“It’s big, for me or Jason, just getting that good feeling when you put pucks in the net,” added Ladd, who will try to repeat the feat Thursday night when the Isles visit Tampa Bay for the opener of a two-game trip through Florida.

Nikolay Kulemin also scored Monday night for New York, which continued to have problems with its previously impenetrable penalty-killing unit.

After yielding one goal in their first 22 man-disadvantages, the Isles have surrendered 10 tallies in the last 26 chances, including a power-play goal by Markus Granlund to even the score at 2-2 with 3:30 left in the second period.

Clutterbuck’s back-handed shot beat Miller just over nine minutes into the third to put New York ahead to stay.

Jaroslav Halak made 32 saves for the Isles, who finally got some positive results after suffering back-to-back shootout losses to Philadelphia and Edmonton in Brooklyn last Thursday and Saturday, respectively.

“We battled back and we were resilient and we did some good things,” head coach Jack Capuano said after his team’s first win of November.

Isle Have Another: The Isles’ defense was able to ward off the Canucks, winless in their last nine games, despite the loss of stalwart blue-liner Travis Hamonic, who is expected to miss four-to-six weeks due to a thumb injury suffered in the first period of Saturday night’s home loss to Edmonton. Neophyte defenseman Adam Pelech was recalled AHL Bridgeport on Monday to take Hamonic’s spot, and responded by skating to a plus-one rating in 17 minutes and picking up an assist on Ladd’s goal in the third period. “I had a good few weeks in Bridgeport and it just gave me a chance to continue to work on my game and I’m glad to be back,” said the 22-year-old Pelech, who played nine games with the Isles last season … The Isles should be eager for a measure of revenge in Tampa on Tuesday night. Not only did the Lightning knock the Isles out of last year’s playoffs in the Eastern Conference semifinals, but they also handed New York a season-worst 6-1 loss at Barclays on Nov. 1, a game in which Halak and Thomas Greiss each surrendered three goals … The Isles went 0-for-2 on the power play Monday, giving them just one goal in their 14 opportunities with a man advantage.

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