The Islanders haven’t had any sort of offensive flow yet this season, save for perhaps a lopsided win over the Sabres in their home opener.
On Saturday, the Isles looked more like a well-oiled machine. Nick Leddy led rushes into the San Jose end early and often, John Tavares didn’t smash his stick on the ice after a flubbed chance and Josh Bailey and Andrew Ladd scored highlight-reel goals.
They pulled out a 5-3 win over the Sharks at Barclays Center to go over .500 (4-3-1) for the first time this season. Tavares snapped a five-game pointless streak with assists on both of Anders Lee’s goals and added an empty-netter with 55.4 seconds to go to seal it, giving the Isles captain two games with three points apiece and six without anything.
“I never worry about Johnny,” said Lee, who now has five goals to lead the team. “He’s an unbelievable player, he’s our captain. He doesn’t let that stuff take away from his leadership or his work ethic and he was rewarded tonight.”
After falling behind in the second on the first of Logan Couture’s three goals for the Sharks, the Isles tied it and grabbed the lead in a 58-second span. Leddy followed up a puck that skittered off his stick behind the Sharks’ goal line and whipped a pass to Lee, who slammed it past Aaron Dell at 7:33.
Bailey then made like an All-Star game shootout participant, picking off Joe Thornton’s pass, dancing past Joe Pavelski and putting a between-the-legs shot behind Dell at 8:31.
“It was kind of my last option,” Bailey said.
Couture tied it heading to the third but Mathew Barzal and his ever-growing confidence helped restore the Isles lead 3:12 into the third. He swooped onto a pass from Andrew Ladd, circled the net as the Sharks watched and fed Ladd for a snap shot past Dell to give Barzal points in three straight games.
Tavares followed that up with a patient move two on one, drawing chasing Sharks to him before sending a feed to Lee for a two-goal edge at 11:47. Thomas Greiss helped the Isles weather a serious San Jose storm between those goals, making 11 of his 28 saves for the game and the Islanders pressed on to create some more chances before Couture banked one off Dennis Seidenberg at 18:08 and Tavares closed out the scoring.
“We looked a little faster and I thought we played with a little more confidence most of the game,” Doug Weight said. “It was refreshing. We were a little stagnant the last couple games, a lot of standing around in the O-zone, the neutral zone. We know we’ve got to play fast and we did the job for the most part.”
The Islanders also continued a wild streak, going to 22-4-4 at home against Western Conference opponents since the Isles moved into Barclays Center. The building’s quirks seem to energize the Isles, especially against teams that only make the trip once a season.
And the Isles’ next four home games are against teams from the West, with the winless Coyotes coming in next on Tuesday.
“I’d like to read into it and figure out what it is, but I don’t know,” Weight said. “We feel very comfortable here.”