ELMONT, N.Y. — New York Islanders winger Julien Gauthier was waiting for an opportunity like the one that arose on Wednesday night at UBS Arena.
With five seconds left on his team’s third power play of the night in the second period of an exhibition matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers, the 25-year-old ex-Ranger and Senator bounced on a loose puck at the top of the left circle and with a half-slapper sniped his team’s second goal of the night, which proved to be the game-winner in a 2-1 triumph.
“My shot has always been a weapon,” Gauthier, who also struck a post in the frame, said. “I try to use it as much as I can. It’s fun to get an opportunity on the power play and I made the most of it.”
While Gauthier’s shot has always been deemed dangerous, it hasn’t necessarily translated into consistent goal-scoring at the NHL level. He’s scored just 11 goals across 131 career games.
But the Islanders are offering an opportunity for him to find playing time in the pros, though he’s currently competing with Oliver Wahlstrom and Hudson Fasching for right-wing minutes, most likely to come on the third line.
“It’s fun to play in the NHL but it’s also fun to play in a good role,” Gauthier said. “That’s what I’m fighting for. I want to make the most out of the opportunity they gave me. I want to try to earn more ice time and I want to earn the coach’s trust.”
So far, he’s left a good impression on Islanders head coach Lane Lambert.
“I thought he was hard on pucks, I thought he was in on forecheck and he was physical,” Lambert said. “I’ve said from Day 1, the one thing that you notice about him is he can shoot the puck. He scored, he hit the goalpost, so I thought he showed pretty well tonight.”