Islanders coach Jack Capuano wants to see confidence from Josh Bailey. One way to do that was to show confidence in Josh Bailey.
Moving the right winger up on to the first line with John Tavares and Andrew Ladd, playing him on the first unit power play and then sending Bailey out onto the ice during the 3-on-3 overtime, Capuano got a payoff in the form of the Islanders' first win of the young season as Bailey delivered the game-winner in a 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.
"If he plays with confidence, as I told him, and the work ethic that he has, he's a skill player and he has the ability to play on that line," said Capuano. "It's something that we wanted to try going into tonight's game and I thought they played well."
After Anaheim tied the game with just one minute left in regulation, Bailey capped the Islanders' home opener with the winning goal 54 seconds into overtime. Receiving the puck from Nick Leddy just inside the blue line, he weaved to his right, split a pair of defenders and tucked the puck past Ducks' goalie John Gibson after gliding across the front of the crease.
"We were just trying to maintain possession," said Bailey. "I just circled back and tried to take it to the net. Made a good move and was able to put it home."
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Capuano wasn't particularly disappointed in the Islanders' play as they lost their first two to the Rangers and Capitals - "We're playing the right way," the coach said. "We're doing the right things." - but the results, in wins and goals, hadn't been there.
So he turned to Bailey for the first line. The ninth-year right wing is still just 27, and he'd delivered strong moments in last spring's playoff run after coming back from a concussion. Capuano said Bailey's 2016 training camp was one of the better ones he'd had.
So he put him out there with the captain and the newly-acquired two-time Stanley Cup champ for the opportunity to deliver on the talent Capuano has always believed in.
"The skill level's there, there's no question," said Capuano. "I think we've seen that in the past. So I have a lot of confidence in his play."
The new alignments - Jason Chimera to a line with Brock Nelson and Anders Lee, Anthony Beauvillier back in for fellow 19-year-old rookie Mathew Barzal - delivered an active attack in the first period, putting 16 shots on goal with the boost of four power plays.
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"We were strong on the puck," said Tavares. "We got in on the forecheck. Even they tried to get some transition up the ice we just came back hard. A group of five guys and we were able to transition the other way and really keep harping on them and really try to wear them down that way and I think that really set the tone for us for the game.
It only resulted in one goal - Brock Nelson's spinning backhander off a centering pass from Chimera along the boards - and a sense of some opportunities missed. It could have gone that way once the Ducks tied the game in that final minute.
Bailey made sure there were no regrets. And got the Islanders the win they were looking for.
"I don't know if we viewed it as a need when you have 82," said Bailey. "But you definitely want to get one. Things can snowball pretty quickly on you. We've got a lot of games in a short amount of time. We were relying on getting one here tonight."