WASHINGTON - Josh Bailey may not have proved himself as a reliable playoff performer, not with just seven games of postseason experience under his hockey suspenders.
But he certainly is not shrinking from the few playoff spotlight chances he's had. In Game 1 Wednesday night, Bailey was the best of a very strong group of Islanders forwards, assisting on Brock Nelson's game-opening score and scoring the big third goal in the second period of the Isles' 4-1 win.
His line, with Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo, interrupted a half-dozen Caps outlet passes from the Washington zone and generally played more in the opposing end than their own. Bailey spent a bulk of this season on John Tavares' wing, but he's had good chemistry with Nielsen and Okposo in the past and the three seem to mesh well on the forecheck.
"That's a strength of our team, to be hard on the forecheck and we want to play to our strengths," Bailey said. "It's just one part of what we want to do."
Bailey finished off the regular season with a career-high 41 points, but most important for Jack Capuano was that Bailey also had a career high with 140 shots on goal -- not an eye-opening number in 70 games (Okposo had 195 shots in 60 games), but for a player in Bailey whom the coaching staff implores to shoot more, it's a start.
Bailey had three of the Isles' 27 shots Wednesday night, two on the sequence where he shoveled the puck off Caps goaltender Braden Holtby, off the post, back off Holtby and in midway through the second period.
Bailey now has five points in seven career playoff games, having played the bulk of the 2013 playoff loss to the Penguins on Tavares' wing. It's not exactly a Gretzkyian scoring pace, but for a player who doesn't pile up points in the regular season, it's something to note.