The Islanders had lots to celebrate in last night’s 5-2 win over the Avalanche at Nassau Colisem. There was the return of top players John Tavares and James Wisniewski. There was the two-goal contribution from defenseman Milan Jurcina to spark a trio of second-period goals. And there was another superb 28-save effort by goaltender Dwayne Roloson.
But perhaps the most exciting development for the Islanders is the irrefutable emergence of third-year forward Josh Bailey, who delivered another tremendous performance last night.
Bailey, who finished with a goal and an assist, teetered on the verge of breaking out last season. He showed glimpses of the dynamic play-making center the Islanders hoped for when they moved down—twice—to select him 9th overall in the 2008 draft. He even showed a knack for playing on the wing with little adjustment necessary.
But make no mistake, this season is the season Josh Bailey has been waiting for since breaking into the league as an 18-year-old two seasons ago.
"I just want to establish myself," said Bailey, who wore the team's makeshift MVP trophy hard hat after the game. "The first couple of years I didn't do that. I had a better year last year, but you want to establish yourself as the player you're going to be for the rest of your career and I want to do that."
In the first five games of the season, Bailey leads the team with seven points—three goals and four assists.
"Garth doesn't get enough credit for drafting him," coach Scott Gordon said. "[Bailey] is showing that he was the right guy."
Bailey’s third goal of the season capped an offensive surge in the second period that began with the Islanders first shorthanded goal of the season.
With captain Doug Weight in the box for a hooking penalty, Jurcina unleashed a blistering slapshot from the point that breezed past Avalanche goaltender Craig Anderson’s right shoulder at 13:06.
"[Assistant Coach] Dean Chynoweth said to me, 'If that didn't hit the net, it would've gone around the rink twice," Gordon joked after the game.
Jurcina, who picked up an assist on the Islanders fifth goal as well, tallied again with a sharp-angle goal at 18:01 to extend the Islanders lead and less than a minute later, Bailey went top shelf for a power-play goal at 19:00.
Chris Stewart got Colorado on the board early in the third period and TJ Galiardi cut the lead in half after Michael Grabner’s first goal as an Islander at 4:12, but the Islander held on for their second win of the season. In his first game back from concussion, Tavares scored the empty-netter with less than twenty seconds to play.
"To come out in the third like that when they got one early and lock it down, that's what we're learning and we've got to keep it up," Tavares said.