Lane Lambert’s first concern was for Barry Trotz, his longtime friend and boss. And then the associate coach settled into his temporary assignment of running the Islanders’ bench.
Trotz was absent from Saturday afternoon’s 3-2 overtime win over the Oilers at UBS Arena for non-COVID-19 personal reasons.
Lambert, who has served on Trotz’s staffs for four seasons with the Islanders, four with the Capitals and three with the Predators, worked the bench with just assistant Jim Hiller instead of the usual three coaches. Assistant John Gruden and goalie coach Piero Greco both entered COVID-19 protocol on Saturday.
"The thoughts were with Barry, just wishing him the best," Lambert said. "From there, we know we have a game plan. I’ve been with him a long, long time. I think that we work well together. We work hand-in-hand. I kind of knew what he wanted to do and I had some ideas as well. It just went from there. It wasn’t anything that was stressful.
"I’ll give our guys credit. They knew what was going on and there was only two of us behind the bench. They were dialed in."
The Oilers’ Connor McDavid led a two-on-one rush with the teams skating four-on-four midway through the third period and the score tied at 2. Defenseman Scott Mayfield was able to use his stick to deflect away McDavid’s attempted cross-ice feed to defenseman Darnell Nurse.
"That was a huge play," defenseman Adam Pelech said. "Crucial moment of the game. Just a great defensive play by him, and that was me getting caught up on the rush, so I appreciate that."
Nurse then used his body to block Zach Parise’s look at an open net from off the right post at 14:31 of the third period with the teams skating five-on-five.
Mathew Barzal’s primary assist on defenseman Noah Dobson’s overtime winner gave the top-line center two goals and 11 assists in his last eight games. He has notched at least one point in each . . . Dobson matched his career high with five shots and also had three blocked shots in 24:54 of ice time . . . Anders Lee extended his point streak to five games (three goals, two assists). He has six goals in his last eight games, including three on the power play . . . The once-anemic Islanders power play is a dangerous 9-for-26 (34.6%) since Dec. 4 and has produced at least one goal in four straight games for the first time since October 2018, according to team statistician Eric Hornick . . . Cole Bardreau, Michael Dal Colle and defenseman Grant Hutton were reassigned to the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport . . . The Islanders won for the first time in eight tries on New Year’s Day.