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Notebook: Top Line Leads as Isles Clip Wings 3-2 in OT

Lee and Eberle combine for three goals, Clutterbuck makes preseason debut, as Isles improve to 4-1-0

by Sasha Kandrach KandrachSasha /

Anders Lee scored the OT winner and Jordan Eberle scored twice in the first period as the Isles picked up a 3-2 OT win over the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night at NYCB Live - Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders are now 4-1-0 in preseason contests. 

"We came out of the box playing quick and we had lots of pace to our game," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "That helped us get off to a good start. Then we scored two goals and I think we started thinking it was going to be easy. We started getting fancy, playing east and west and lost our pace. They started getting their legs and forechecking. We didn't generate anything in our second period...I thought our group battled back together and I really liked our third period."

Sixty-minutes wasn't enough to determine the result, but the Islanders captain sealed the victory off of a feed from Mason Jobst down low with 28.7 seconds remaining in the three-on-three overtime. 

Tweet from @NYIslanders: You know we can't spell Islanders without ANDERS! #YesYesYes

"We had a great first period, but then our second we let up a little," Lee said. "We did a good job fighting back to stay in it. We got complacent and comfortable after that first period, but then we got back to our game."

After Eberle's first period tallies, the Isles let up in the second and the Red Wings took advantage. Detroit cut its deficit in half with three minutes remaining in the second period, as Michael Rasmussen buried a loose puck past Isles goaltender Semyon Varlamov.

Detroit tied the score 2-2 six minutes into the third period after Tom Kuhnhackl took a penalty for boarding. Evgeny Svechnikov snapped a shot from the slot for a power-play goal. 

Tweet from @NYIslanders: We like it. 😍 @jeberle_7

The Islanders top line looked strong for a second straight game, combining for six points, a pair of goals from Eberle, a goal and an assist from Lee and two assists from Mathew Barzal. 

The line looked dialed in early, scoring a pair of goals 2:37 apart. Nick Leddy orchestrated the Isles first goal, as the defenseman patiently picked his spot before firing the puck on net. Off the boards, Eberle buried the puck on the doorstep to put the Islanders on board. 

The Isles doubled their lead on the power play as Detroit's Givani Smith was whistled for interference. The top power-play unit consisting of Leddy, Michael Dal Colle, Barzal, Lee and Eberle cashed in just under three minutes later. Barzal, Lee and Eberle strung together a smooth tic-tac-toe sequence in which Eberle scored on the backdoor. 

Eberle nearly had a hat trick five minutes following his second goal. The 29-year-old right winger broke into the offensive zone on a breakaway. Eberle nearly backhanded the puck past Detroit's goaltender Jimmy Howard but was hooked from behind by Joe Veleno. 

Tweet from @NYIslanders: This is 🔥🔥.Keep ���em coming boys. #LGI


Cal Clutterbuck made his first appearance of the preseason and logged 11:32 of ice time, despite having missed the majority of the second period after getting hit up high. The fear was that Clutterbuck had aggravated his back, but it turns out he had to leave for a mandatory evaluation to rule out a potential concussion. 

"It was a bit of an odd game," Clutterbuck said. "I thought we came out pretty strong and then got away from it a little bit, obviously I missed the whole second period mostly - and I really felt good about my first shift in the second. I just tried to go out there in the third and keep grinding away, get my legs back, get my feels back and overall, I thought it was okay."

The 31-year-old right winger wasn't rushed into game action, as he underwent back surgery during the offseason. Clutterbuck suffered a stress fracture, two rotated vertebrae and two slipped discs during last season, but after said he feels good 10 days into camp. Clutterbuck's return signaled the reunion of the Isles 'Identity Line' consisting of Clutterbuck, Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas.  


Highly-touted prospect Noah Dobson, who was selected 12th overall in 2018, continued to impress the Islanders coaching staff and management on Monday. Throughout his 22:56 of ice time, the 19-year-old looked like an NHL regular as he held his own down near the net front and jumped into the rush when the opportunity presented itself. Specifically, Dobson stood out with a second period block and breaking up an odd-man rush. 

Dobson was paired with Thomas Hickey, his third defensive partner of the preseason after Adam Pelech and Nick Leddy. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound blueliner quarterbacked the Islanders' second power play unit alongside fellow prospects Otto Koivula, Grant Hutton, Kieffer Bellows and Mason Jobst. Dobson also saw action on the penalty kill. 

"He's poised beyond his years, his awareness is exceptional," Trotz said. "Every game he looks more and more comfortable. I've used him with three different partners so see what partner could work with him if it gets to that point. It gives the veteran guys the opportunity to see how well they can work with the young guys."


Varlamov played his first full preseason game on Monday night, after playing half and two-thirds in his previous two appearances. The 31-year-old Russian netminder had 21 saves. 

"He's looked really good," Trotz said. "He's worked with our goaltending department and they're giving him some things to get his game to that level that he needs to, but he's been really solid in all of the games. He made a couple big saves in the second. I think he's feeling more comfortable with the way we play."


The Islanders return to action tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden against their crosstown rivals the New York Rangers. 

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