The Sharks’ net was empty as Anders Lee advanced along the left boards. But Josh Bailey was open in the middle.
So instead of taking a shot at his first career hat trick, the Islanders’ captain fed his teammate for the easy clinching goal at 17:41 of the third period in Sunday’s 4-1 win over the Sharks at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.
“I read the play,” said Lee, who notched his 24th career two-goal game, the most by an active NHL player without a hat trick. “It’s an easy pass. Let’s just close it out and move on. If I never get one, maybe I’ll regret it. But right now, it doesn’t matter at all.”
Lee’s unselfish play impressed but did not surprise his teammates and coach Barry Trotz. “He hasn’t had a hat trick in the NHL and that wasn’t even a thought in his head,” Trotz said.
“We were giving him a hard time about it,” linemate Mathew Barzal said. “But it’s probably the right play to go to Bails because you want to get that empty net and end the game.”
Derick Brassard resumed skating Sunday for the first time since suffering a small fracture in his right cheek in front of his ear when he was hit by a puck Wednesday. He practiced with a protective face shield that he’ll wear when he resumes playing and remains day-to-day.
Brassard cleared the concussion protocol and said he is not suffering from headaches, though he has had other symptoms such as nausea. “I had a broken jaw so I had a plate [inserted],” he said of a previous injury. “I got hit just above it. I’m lucky a little bit. When I was down, I thought my ear had split in half because of the pressure.”
If he can do it . . .
Jordan Eberle watched the Hurricanes’ 6-3 win in Toronto on Saturday in which emergency goalie Dave Ayres, 42, who works for the Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate as a Zamboni driver, stopped eight of 10 shots to help secure the win over the team that employs him.
“I’ve got a lot of buddies back home that talk about it that they could be in the NHL,” Eberle said. “That’ll feed their fire for sure.”
Kieffer Bellows logged 12:44 with two shots after his recall from the Islanders' AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. Andrew Ladd was reassigned to Bridgeport after logging 11:25 in Friday’s 4-1 win over the Red Wings, only his second NHL game this season . . . Cal Clutterbuck (left wrist), out since Dec. 19, played for Bridgeport both Saturday and Sunday on a conditioning assignment.Trotz said Clutterbuck was ''rusty'' but “a little bit ahead of schedule'' . . . Defenseman Thomas Hickey (lower body), out since Nov. 29, returned to the Sound Tigers’ lineup Saturday but did not play for them Sunday . . . Ross Johnston remained the Islanders’ other healthy scratch.