New York Islanders captain Anders Lee has been impressive so far this season. He is currently leading the Islanders with 12 goals and had put on a clinic in the recent three-game set against the Buffalo Sabres, where he picked up two goals and an assist.
He rode a modest four-game point streak into last night’s game against the Boston Bruins, where the Isles continued to collect points as they beat Boston for the fourth time this season in a 2-1 shootout win.
Despite the outcome, it was a tale of missed opportunities for him and his linemates in particular, but it was not all bad for No. 27. While Lee failed to record a point and continue his streak, he made some great plays. All night long, Lee used his 6’3, 235 lb frame to win puck battles, protect the puck, gain inside position and create in the offensive zone.
A little over eight minutes into the game, Lee seemed to help get the Islanders on the board first, but Jordan Eberle failed to find the back of a seemingly vacant Bruins’ net.
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) March 10, 2021
It was a brilliant fake by Lee on the odd-man rush to convince Jaroslav Halak that he was taking the shot. Once Halak challenged him, he hit Eberle with a strong feed, but nothing came of it. It was that early missed opportunity that foreshadowed how the night would go for the Islanders.
After what had been a strong opening period for Lee, an unfortunate tripping penalty at 18:49 put a damper on things. He got caught flat-footed along the boards after losing a puck battle and took down Charlie Coyle in the process. This led to the game’s opening tally, a power-play goal by David Pastrnak with 31 seconds remaining in the first. That was only Lee’s sixth penalty on the season, but it was a costly one as the Islanders skated off the rink down by one.
The Islanders were outhit 10-5 in the opening frame, but Lee tried to shift the momentum early in the second period as he laid a hit on Boston defenseman Connor Clifton. The Islanders registered 22 hits in the final two frames, losing the physical battle 27-25 when it was all said and done.
As time ticked on in the middle frame, Lee got a glorious chance to even the score. Mathew Barzal corraled the puck off a Boston turnover and fed Lee all alone backdoor, but the chance went by the boards (no pun intended).
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) March 10, 2021
Again, it was just one of those nights.
It seemed that Lee thought about the next play before he made the initial one as he took his eye off the puck for a split second. Against the Buffalo Sabres, the Islanders, and Lee, in particular, were making the most of the Sabres’ mistakes. But against the Bruins, a much better hockey club, it was imperative to do the same.
But that miss was Exhibit B of this top-line not doing that.
Throughout the second period, Lee continued to set up his teammates. Eberle failed to catch some passes cleanly, while Barzal missed his opportunities. When Lee was not dishing pucks to his teammates, he did his best to get his big body in front of Halak. Eberle tried to take advantage of the screen around the 7:00 mark of the middle period, but Halak denied the opportunity.
The Islanders evened the score late in the second period, as Brock Nelson continued his strong form with yet another power-play goal. This late equalizer seemed to give the Islanders momentum heading into the third, as it was by far their best period. Lee registered his only shot on goal at 2:35 of the third.
In a chaotic overtime frame, Lee saw 1:10 minutes, but nothing came of it. Lee was not one of the three shooters chosen in the shootout, not that that came as a shock to the Islanders’ fanbase.
Lee ended the night with one shot, one hit, and one penalty in 19:23 TOI.
He was not one of the players to speak to the media following the win, but we know Lee always puts team success above his own. Even after missed opportunities, not once did he show a lack of hustle, an unwillingness to get to the dirty area, or hang his head. He did what a captain is supposed to do, as he played on and tried to do what he could to help his team collect two points.
At the end of the day, point or no points, he did just that.
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