ELMONT, N.Y. — Patrick Roy has been tasked with providing a spark to a New York Islanders team stuck in neutral. On Sunday night, he provided a first light.
Bo Horvat scored the game-winning goal 41 seconds into overtime to lift the Islanders to a 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars at UBS Arena, providing a first win for the Islanders’ new head coach in his debut with the team after replacing Lane Lambert on Saturday.
New York (20-15-11) overturned a 2-1 third-period deficit — a Hudson Fasching deflection 5:23 into the final frame ultimately forcing overtime.
“I was very happy with the resilience of the group,” Roy said. “That’s what I said after the second period, we were down by one goal and I said the culture of this team is to be resilient and that’s exactly what they did. They were very calm and I’m very happy to see that.”
Mathew Barzal banked a pass off the left boards from the Islanders’ defensive zone up to Horvat near the Stars’ blue line to spring the center in alone on Dallas goalie Scott Wedgewood. From his forehand, he deked to the backhand and lifted his chance into the roof of the net for the winner.
The victory snaps the Islanders’ four-game losing streak and slows down a miserable stretch that saw just two wins in their previous 10 games.
“This brings energy to the group,” Horvat said. “We’ve been talking about it and there’s energy behind the bench and it translates to everybody going over the boards. It was a great first night but we need to continue this.”
New York netminder Ilya Sorokin made a strong first impression for his new head coach, one of the greatest netminders in NHL history, stopping 41 of 43 shots to keep his team in it on a night they were largely outperformed by one of the top teams in the Western Conference (27-13-6).
“He was probably the first start of the game,” Roy said. “He was really sharp. He looked really confident out there… I understand why he was a Vezina candidate last year.”
Wedgewood had to be equally sharp, making key stops on numerous Grade-A Islanders, in a 24-save effort.
The Islanders pulled out an unlikely opening goal against the early run of play to take an early lead. On a rush into the Dallas zone, Barzal fed Alexander Romanov at the left circle before the defenseman snapped a wrist shot past Wedgewood 2:52 into the game.
Chances continued cropping up for the Islanders. In the first period alone, Matt Martin had a follow-up attempt from close range denied by Wedgewood before Barzal couldn’t convert a Noah Dobson cross-ice feed quick enough to beat the goalie.
Midway through the second period, Hudson Fasching’s stick was lifted by Stars defenseman Jani Hakanpaa, withholding him from stuffing a Kyle Palmieri feed into an open net at the left post.
Seconds later, at the 11:35 mark of the frame, Dallas’ Jason Robertson potted a wrister over Sorokin’s shoulder and into the top-left corner of the net to tie things up.
With 4:52 left in the second, a Nils Lundkvist one-timer from above the right circle squirted under the glove of Sorokin to put the visitors ahead in a stanza that saw them outshoot the Islanders 14-5.
“The thing that I would really love to see us cutting down is the shots,” Roy said. “I feel like we rely a little too much on our goaltender.”
The Islanders found an equalizer 5:23 into the third period when a Dobson wrister from the left point redirected off Fasching and squeaked past Wedgewood — his first goal in 11 games. Dobson picked up two assists on the night.
Two minutes later, Barzal set up J.G. Pageau at the doorstep, but a sprawling Stars netminder stifled his redirection to keep it tied.