It took eight games, but it seems the Islanders' forwards are ready to start carrying their weight.
Secondary scoring has been a problem for the Isles for the entirety of the John Tavares era, this year included. The Isles have gotten plenty of goal production from their defensemen in the season's early going, and fans never have to worry about the team's top line -- whoever that may be alongside JT. But practically all their forwards have been marred in a scoring drought to open the 2016-17 campaign.
Finally on Sunday, it appeared the damn began to break.
While it was Travis Hamonic who opened the scoring, that goal was off some impressive work from the Casey Cizikas line. Later in the first, Cizikas put the Isles up, 2-0, as the newly-constructed fourth line continued to impress on a night where their old linemate was on the opposing side.
But the brightest star on Sunday was Shane Prince, who posted a goal and an assist while registering four shots on goal. It was his second tally since returning from IR.
"Obviously, [I got] a good bounce. I am just trying to skate hard," Prince told reporters about his goal. "When you are moving your feet and playing well, good things happen."
It's a modest self-assessment, as the soon-to-be 24-year-old has picked up right where he left off in last year's playoffs. He's getting to loose pucks in front of the net, showing incredible instincts (like he did on his pretty feed to set up Brock Nelson), and shooting at a breakneck pace -- all elements the Isles desperately needed to break out against Toronto.
It couldn't come at a better time. With Josh Bailey, who also scored, playing his best hockey in two years, and Anthony Beauvillier performing exceedingly well with Tavares, the secondary lines are finding their place. Ryan Strome has looked worlds better at his natural position, Nikolay Kulemin has found a home with Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck, and Prince has sparked the Nelson line to lengthen this lineup.
And this is all without the benefit of an Andrew Ladd goal as of yet. That's not going to remain the case, especially if the signs the Isles' biggest free agent import showed on Sunday continue. For maybe the first time all year, Ladd looked exceedingly comfortable, and a breakout shouldn't be far off.
This is the biggest issue for this club. If they can replicate the output they got from their forwards on Sunday, the sky is the limit for these Isles. And for one night at least, that seemed like a real possibility.