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Ryan Pulock sets Islanders rookie defensemen record in rout of Blackhawks

Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock celebrates with teammates after

Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock celebrates with teammates after scoring against the Blackhawks during the first period on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Chicago. Credit: AP / Kamil Krzaczynski

CHICAGO — There were lots of good things about the Islanders’ 7-3 win over the Blackhawks on Saturday night.

Ryan Pulock set an Islanders record for rookie defensemen with five points (one goal, four assists). Anthony Beauvillier scored twice, both on the power play. Brock Nelson had two assists and his first goal in what he said “felt like years” (18 games, to be precise).

But the best aspect of this much-needed win over a sloppy Blackhawks team came early in the game.

Patrick Kane already had given Chicago a 1-0 lead just 1:01 in and the Blackhawks were digging for another when Jonathan Toews shoved down Tanner Fritz, drawing a penalty.

The Islanders cashed in on the power play, putting some of the fragility talk of the past few weeks to bed for a night. They turned the game around and swamped the Blackhawks, pumping 46 shots at two Chicago goaltenders and using their offensive skills to control a healthy portion of the game in a building where they hadn’t won since March 15, 2009 (0-4-2).

“We showed a lot of character. We just pushed ourselves to be better,” said Beauvillier, who swept home a third try between Anton Forsberg’s legs at 4:35 on that early power play to tie it. “We have a lot of depth in our lineup, a lot of weapons.”

Jordan Eberle put the Isles in front at 10:31 of the first, depositing a puck that Pulock shot and deflected down to Eberle. Pulock took one himself after cutting down from the point at 19:04, his lone goal among the record-setting night.

Uwe Krupp was the last Islanders defenseman to have a five-point game on March 20, 1993, 18 months before Pulock was born.

“We talked about it with Beau last week — when you’re young and you play with confidence, you just look faster, stronger, braver out there,” Doug Weight said of Pulock. “After those first couple points, he was real aggressive, making smart plays, defending. Everything was good.”

Beauvillier was all alone in front of Forsberg to collect a feed from Josh Bailey and deposit another power-play marker at 1:25 of the second for a 4-1 lead. It was Beauvillier’s sixth goal in six games, and the Isles’ 2-for-4 power-play performance was a sharp turn from a 2-for-32 skid in the previous 11 games.

Kane provided just about all of Chicago’s offense, scoring the early goal and another in the third and setting up Erik Gustafsson for a goal in the second.

Nelson’s goal wasn’t the prettiest — Pulock dumped the puck in, Forsberg misplayed it, rookie Ross Johnston tucked a nice little pass out front and Nelson shoveled it home — but he will take it after such a long drought.

Nelson had Johnston, the heavyweight up from Bridgeport, and Alan Quine on his wings, and the unlikely trio had some of the best scoring chances.

“Just kept it simple, that was key,” Nelson said. “We were going north-south all game and tried to be smart when something wasn’t there. It’s definitely nice to chip in.”

Anders Lee and John Tavares capped the night with their 27th and 26th goals and Jaroslav Halak, with 36 saves, was strong in goal. “They had a good start, but we were able to get it back and then build off it,” Pulock said. “It was a pretty good rest of the night from there.”

New York Sports