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Ladd finally delivering for Islanders

High-Priced Free Agent Has First Two-Goal Game in Win Over Caps

December 28, 2016 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Andrew Ladd scored two big goals in the Islanders’ 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals at Downtown’s Barclays Center on Tuesday night. AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Andrew Ladd was brought here to Brooklyn this past summer by New York general manager Garth Snow to help fill the void left by Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen.

Though his first 32 games as an Islander, the veteran winger — inked to an eyebrow-raising seven-year, $38 million pact on July 1 — managed only four goals.

He’s potted three in the last two contests, including a pair in Tuesday night’s 4-3 victory over the Washington Capitals in front of 15,795 fans at Downtown’s Barclays Center, lifting the Isles to their third consecutive win while boosting his own status as a key contributor to what the team hopes will be a surge back into playoff contention.

“When pucks start going in, your confidence is a lot higher,” admitted Ladd, who lit the lamp at 14:03 of the second period to give New York a 2-1 lead and snapped a 2-2 tie 4:41 into the final stanza.

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“I’ve been around long enough to know that when things start to go your way, you’ve got to ride that as long as you can,” Ladd added.

The Isles (14-14-6) are doubtlessly hoping to do the same after once again climbing out of the Eastern Conference cellar.

Justin Williams, Alex Ovechkin and Andre Burakovsky scored for Washington before the Isles managed to kill off a pair of Capitals power plays in the final five minutes.

Anders Lee scored his 12th goal in the past 16 games and Cal Clutterbuck also tallied for New York, which got 31 big saves from reportedly on-the-trade-block goalie Jaroslav Halak and a perfect 4-for-4 effort out of its penalty killing unit.

But for Ladd, finding a way to begin making good on what many viewed as a questionable contract has to be a relief.

“You’re probably looking to shoot more than you are when things aren’t going your way,” Ladd said of his recent surge.

Okposo (nine goals and 13 assists for Buffalo) and Nielsen (eight goals and 10 assists for Detroit), long-time staples of this franchise as it ascended back into postseason contention, are still producing at a better pace than Ladd, who has just three assists to go with his seven goals.

However, New York still has 48 games left to make a push for its second straight postseason berth since arriving in our fair borough. And Ladd has to be at the forefront of that effort.

“I thought we played a pretty tight game and got some big goals at big times,” noted Ladd, who will lead the Isles into Minnesota on Thursday night and Winnipeg on Saturday before a league-wide bye week.

The Isles’ penalty killing has been perfect during this three-game run, going 9-for-9, with team captain John Tavares getting some rare ice time with the unit.

Also, Halak stepping up after sitting behind Thomas Greiss and third stringer Jean-Francois Berube while Snow shops his services around the league was a big boon for New York Tuesday night.

“It’s something we take pride in as penalty killers,” Clutterbuck said. “It’s a huge part of a team.”

“A total team effort tonight,” Isles head coach Jack Capuano added after his team improved to 8-4-2 in its last 14 games. “Overall a good night, special teams, goaltending and five-on-five.” 

Isle Have Another: Lee’s breakaway goal in the third period proved to be his third game winner of the year, and gave him 12 tallies since Nov. 23, just one shy of MVP front-runner Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh for the most in the league over that stretch … Tavares played a career-high 4:11 on the penalty kill Tuesday, but was held pointless for the fourth time in the past five games, leaving him five points shy of becoming the 10th player in team history to reach 500 … The Isles will play seven of their next eight games on the road before beginning a six-game stand at Barclays Center on Jan. 19.

* * *

On the local college hoops scene, both the LIU Brooklyn Blackbirds and St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers will kick off the Northeast Conference portion of their schedules Thursday night.

The Blackbirds (7-6) will host Mount St. Mary’s at the Steinberg Wellness Center at 4:30 p.m., hoping to begin a run to their first NEC crown since ending a record-setting three-peat in 2013.

The Terriers (2-11) will only be a few blocks away on Remsen Street Thursday afternoon, hosting NEC rival Bryant at the Pope Center. SFC is still seeking its first trip ever to the men’s NCAA Tournament.


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