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New York Islanders

Islanders Beat Stars In OT; Snap Losing Skid In Head Coach Roy’s Debut



AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Elmont, NY– The New York Islanders welcomed Patrick Roy in the most appropriate way possible. On Sunday night, in their new head coach’s debut, the team played yet another game that went overtime.

But in a spot where they’ve lost so many times before this year, the Islanders came away with a win as Bo Horvat scored 41 seconds into the extra frame to sink the Dallas Stars 3-2 at UBS Arena.

With a long stretch pass from Mathew Barzal, Horvat skated in behind the Dallas defense to beat Stars goalie Scott Wedgewood with a backhand shot for his 19th goal of the year and snap the Islanders’ recent four-game losing streak.

“It definitely feels good to score that and get the win and do it at home,” Horvat said. “But it means nothing if we can’t do it on a consistent basis.”

As huge as the win was, it was far from a perfect night. Many of the Islanders’ issues that existed under former head coach Lane Lambert showed themselves during the first night of the Roy era. Namely, a mid-game lull during the second period and being outshot by Dallas 42-28.

“The thing that I would really love to see us cutting down is the shots on net,” Roy said. “Unfortunately, 17 of [the shots] came from turnovers. If we want to cut down below 30 [shots], we’re going to have to do a better job not turning that puck over.”

The Stars peppered 14 shots on net in the second period, taking a 2-1 lead with goals by Jason Robertson and Nils Lundkvist.

Despite allowing those two scores and the abundance of chances his team gave up in front of him, Ilya Sorokin kept the score close by making 40 saves in his ninth consecutive start.

“He was really sharp,” Roy said. “He looked really confident out there. He’s been playing a lot lately. I think it’s going to be good when Varlamov is back so he can get a bit of a rest, but, man, he’s very solid. I understand why he was a Vezina candidate last year, the way he’s been playing.”

Hudson Fasching tied the score for New York at 5:23 of the third when he deflected home a Noah Dobson shot from the point for his third goal of the season.

While Fasching’s goal and Sorokin’s effort certainly kept the Islanders in the game, so too did Roy’s animated energy behind the bench.

All night long, Roy paced feverishly back and forth, instructing his new players. At times, his voice could be heard all the way at the top of the arena on press row.

“When a voice brings that energetic feel and passion and intensity, it forces you to be intense and engage,” Barzal said. “I absolutely think it translated immediately.”

The bar was incredibly low, but the Islanders played with more energy on Sunday than they had in any of their previous four games combined. Alexander Romanov scored an early game-opening tally less than three minutes into the first by collecting a pass from Barzal and shooting high blocker on Wedgewood from the left faceoff dot for his fifth goal of the season.

But even with the early adrenaline rush, Roy couldn’t help but feel the nerves of being back in the NHL as a head coach for the first time in more than seven years.

“I was very nervous, I won’t lie,” Roy said. “You always want to win that first game, and I’m very thankful to our players for the effort that they put out there. I was just hoping to give a good show to our fans and have them enjoy the night.”

All things told it seemed that merely having Roy in the building was sufficient enough for those at UBS Arena who chanted his name. The win that improved the Islanders’ record to 20-15-11 was an added bonus for all parties involved.

“It’s about being together and believing in one another,” Anders Lee said. “His messages rang true today, and the boys listened intently, taking that energy and bringing it to tonight’s game.”




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