Anders Lee scored a pair of goals - including the game-winner - on Sunday afternoon, as the New York Islanders reeled in two points with a 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at Nassau Coliseum.
It ultimately turned out to be a three-point game for the captain, and an important win for the Islanders, who earned their second-straight win on home ice, a solid response after an 0-4-0 western road trip.
"There was a period there where we were dry and we were creating opportunities and just getting frustrated because we weren't winning hockey games," Lee said. "We just stuck with it and we're getting rewarded for our hard work and our efforts and not deviating."
Devon Toews and Josh Bailey also scored for the Islanders, while Semyon Varlamov made 29 saves. Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson each had two assists.
Video: Lee powers Islanders past Sharks
LEE LEADS THE WAY:
On Wednesday, after a 3-1 loss in Colorado, Lee promised that the Islanders would work through the adversity that beset them on their four-game Western Conference road trip. After scoring a much-needed 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night, the captain stepped up on Sunday afternoon, leading the Isles with a three-point effort.
Lee had the Isles' first two goals, opening the scoring by converting a two-on-one with Barzal by sniping high on Martin Jones at 6:49 of the first period. After Dylan Gambrell tied the score for the Sharks with a first-period deflection, Lee put the Isles ahead 2-1 with his second goal of the evening, snapping a wrister high blocker side on Jones at 1:10 of the middle frame.
The two tallies ended an eight-game goalless drought for the captain, and marked another solid effort from the Isles' top line, which has been rewarded in two straight games.
"Barzal's line was real strong again," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "They got us going and Lee had two goals. [Lee] was probably squeezing it a bit on that last trip and I thought he played a great game."
Video: SJS@NYI: Lee nets Barzal's slick feed on 2-on-1
The Isles were certainly looking high on the Sharks netminder, as Toews made it 3-1 going top shelf on Jones at 17:38. Toews' goal was his sixth of the season, which is a new career-high for the sophomore defenseman.
Lee's two-goal evening was the 24th multi-goal game of his eight-year NHL career, but the Isles' captain had yet to record a hat trick. He seemed primed to do so with 2:19 to play, rushing the puck up the ice with the Sharks' net empty. Instead of taking a so-so shot at the yawning cage, he dished to Bailey who had a sure-thing, sacrificing his own chance at the trick for the good of the team.
"If I never get one, maybe I'll regret it," Lee joked. "But right now it doesn't matter at all. We needed a big tonight following up the other night here and trying to build some momentum."
It was a literal we over me moment, which Trotz called attention to the moment after the game, praising Lee for his leadership.
"He hasn't had a hat trick ever in his life in the NHL. He had an opportunity to do it and it wasn't even a thought in his head. His thought was to get it over to a teammate and made sure we got the win in the empty net," Trotz said. "It tells you a lot about Anders. Tells you what kind of leader he is and the person that he is too. It doesn't surprise me because I get to see him day in and day out and I can say it's just who he is."
Video: SJS@NYI: Bailey pots empty-netter to seal victory
BELLOWS IN, LADD TO BRIDGEPORT:
Kieffer Bellows drew back into the lineup on Sunday evening, as he was recalled from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Sunday afternoon. In a corresponding move, Andrew Ladd was returned on loan to Bridgeport after a one-game recall.
Bellows slotted in on the third line alongside Michael Dal Colle and Josh Bailey, finishing the game with two shots, two hits and 12:44 TOI.
The Islanders close out a three-game Coliseum homestand against the Rangers on Tuesday night. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.