Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
The climb continues, and if you believe in fairy tales and the stuff dreams are made of, the story written on the ice in Montreal Thursday evening had the perfect ending.
Anthony Beauvillier, the Islanders 19-year old rookie forward who made the team, to some measure of surprise, out of training camp, played for the first time as a professional in his hometown in front of 50 family and friends.
The night started for Beauvillier with a 'gift' from his teammates, as they sent him out for pre-game warmups alone, without following him onto the ice. It's an old gag reserved for when the team wants to shift the attention to one singular player in hopes of showcasing him….or embarrassing him.
It continued shortly after puck drop, as Beauvillier took a perfect pass from Brock Nelson and snapped a quick low shot past Carey Price short-side just 5:28 into the first period. It was the young rookie's sixth goal of the season but make no mistake, it might have felt like his 50th. From the goal celebration to the shot in the crowd of his proud mother and father waving his jersey as he teared up, it was a sign of good karma to come over the final 55 minutes.
Anders Lee would score his 23rd in the second off one of the prettiest passes you will ever see from Josh Bailey before John Tavares, who had a monster game, would not be undone, tying Lee for the goal scoring lead into an empty net with 59 seconds remaining. It was a terrific road win for the Islanders, their second straight on the nine-game trip, and first win in Montreal since 2014. But make no mistake, this night belonged to the 19-year old.
"I can't ask for a better night," Beauvillier told Newsday. "I was trying to nap earlier today and I was just thinking it would be good to get a win, have my friends and family happy after the game. This was special."
After finishing with four shots (three on goal) and four hits in 14:13 of ice time in his homecoming, it was much more special to Beauvillier to be able to share the experience with his parents. "They're the reason I'm here," he told TSN. "They supported me since I'm young. They paid for everything. It means everything for me to have them here. It was a little gift for them to score a goal and get the win here." Needless to say, he was announced as the game's first star and came out to a rousing ovation.
With Casey Cizikas out a month with a broken hand, Cal Clutterbuck still nursing a lower-body injury and Shane Prince trying to get back from an upper-body malady, the Islanders are going to need more performances like this from Beauvillier as well as recent call-up, Bracken Kearns, who played 10:12 in his debut and finished with five hits and two shots.
With one more game before the trade deadline, Saturday in Columbus, the team cannot sit back and wait for reinforcements to arrive. The trade market has never been, and will never be, a certainty in that regard. It's impossible to predict which side of the bed a certain general manager will wake up on, as player availability and prices seem to change hourly.
The Islanders are looking to buy, however, as they find themselves in control of the final wild card spot in the Eastern conference, but battling with Toronto, Boston and Florida, while at the same time, keeping an eye on Philadelphia, Buffalo and Tampa. With 22 games to go, it will not get any easier and prices may not come down from their lofty perch. Now 12-4-2 under interim head coach Doug Weight, does the roster, as currently constituted, have what it takes should general manger Garth Snow not be able to pull off a deal or two? Confidence goes a long way, and right now, this team has plenty of it.