Cal Clutterbuck showed a lot of guts in the Islanders’ win over the Dallas Stars on Sunday.
Clutterbuck was a game-time decision on Sunday after leaving Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury. He played, but was forced out of the contest in the first period after Jason Demers drove him into the boards while he was kneeling down. He returned to the game in the second period and delivered some poetic justice, scoring two goals including the game-winner in a 6-5 win.
“He’s relentless,” Casey Cizikas said. “It takes a lot for him to leave a game. For him to come back and battle the way he did, it just goes to show how big he is for our team and what kind of character he has. He’s a leader on our team and he showed that tonight.”
Clutterbuck scored two goals for the first time since 2011 because while he has a wicked wrist shot, he’s filling a different, more physical role for the Islanders. He’s consistently one of the NHL’s top hitters – currently third with 165 – and usually only outdone by linemate Matt Martin.
“I don’t think I ever really go into a game thinking about two-goal games, I just go in and play the way I need to play,” Clutterbuck said. “I have a blueprint in my mind of what I need to be doing to be successful. It does involve shooting the puck and trying to get in positions where I shoot the puck. Today I got those chances and I made the most of it.”
Clutterbuck has nine goals in 39 games this season, two more than his total from last year. His career-high is 19, which he set with the Minnesota Wild in 2010-11. Capuano said Clutterbuck deserves to be rewarded offensively, given his commitment to his role, defensive play and his overall work ethic.
“He's one of the leaders of our hockey club,” Capuano said. “You get rewarded offensively when you work hard in practice and do good things defensively. He’s on pace to have a career year and he's playing extremely well. He deserves it because of his work ethic."
Capuano didn’t stop there, heaping the praise on Clutterbuck, who is also a part of the Islanders third-ranked penalty kill.
“I view him as a guy who comes to the rink every day with a purpose, a guy who wants to get better. He’s a physical presence and you look at a guy and how physical he is and how many hits he delivers… He’s got a high hockey IQ, he knows how to play the game. You can put him out there in a lot of situations.
“To me he’s a leader. He doesn’t wear a letter on his jersey, but the guys know in that room that he’s an experienced guy and what he brings to the table.”
Between a game-high four hits, two goals and a lot of guts, everything Clutterbuck brings was on display Sunday.