Bailey nets OT winner as Islanders defeat Flyers
NEW YORK — When it comes to receiving publicity for his feats, New York Islanders center Josh Bailey is a “tweener” — is too established to be an unknown prospect but yet, after eight-seasons as a teammate of John Tavares, too overshadowed by one of the best players in the NHL.
But this season, Bailey has been too good for anyone to ignore for much longer.
Bailey continued his breakout campaign Wednesday night when he collected two assists in regulation before scoring the winning goal 32 seconds into overtime as the Islanders edged the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 at Barclays Center.
“There’s only so much (attention) to go around, I guess,” Islanders coach Doug Weight said, “We’ve got a lot of stories, obviously, with Johnny. And usually those young kids get a lot of attention because a lot of people don’t know what they’re going to be.”
Two of those young kids, rookies Mathew Barzal and Josh Ho-Sang, scored for the Islanders, who enter Thanksgiving in third place in the Metropolitan Division thanks not only to Tavares and the youngsters but emerging veterans such as Bailey and fifth-year center Andres Lee, who is on pace for 40 goals.
“They don’t get enough attention, which is, I think, fine with Anders and fine with Josh,” Weight said. “I think they know what they mean to our hockey club. They’ve been bringing it game in and game out.
“They keep playing like they’re playing, they’ll get plenty (of attention).”
Especially if Bailey continues taking aim at yellowed pages of the Islanders’ record book. The last New York player to average an assist a game was Hall of Fame Mike Bossy, who racked up 83 assists during the 1981-82 season.
As has been his custom this season, Bailey shrugged off the idea he’s playing the best hockey of his career.
“Maybe, I’ll let you guys make that decision,” he said with a grin. “I keep saying this to you, but it’s because I mean it: Day in and day out, I just try and turn the page and get ready for what’s coming next. I don’t spend a whole lot of time dwelling on the previous games or shifts of plays. It’s just looking ahead and trying to be better each time.”
Bailey’s winning goal was set up by Tavares, who won a fierce battle for the puck along the boards with Flyers center Sean Couturier. Tavares fell twice and was jabbed at repeatedly by Couturier but maintained the puck until he could hold Couturier at bay with one arm while reaching across his body and passing to Bailey.
The first shot by Bailey was deflected by Flyers goalie Brian Elliott, but Bailey put back the rebound for his fifth goal of the season.
“Those situations, I think when you get that second crack at it, you want to make the most of it,” Bailey said. “Definitely was nice to see it go in.”
The goal by Bailey capped an entertaining back-and-forth Thanksgiving Eve battle that featured three ties and two lead changes. Barzal tied the score in the first for the Islanders, who received tying and go-ahead goals from Johnny Boychuk and Ho-Sang in a span of fewer than four minutes in the second period.
Taylor Leier (first period) and Michael Raffl (second period) each scored go-ahead goals for the Flyers (8-9-5), who have lost six straight (0-3-3) to fall into the Metropolitan Division basement.
“It stinks to work real hard to earn that point and then we gave it away a little too easily,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s the part that hurts a little.”
The Flyers, who fell to the visiting Vancouver Canucks 5-2 on Tuesday night, didn’t score Wednesday after Jakub Voracek’s tying goal with 6:06 left in the second. Philadelphia outshot New York 16-8 in the third but could not produce the tiebreaking goal.
“We made a mistake in overtime tonight, we know that,” Hakstol said. “Beyond that, I thought we played a helluva road game on a back to back. We built through the the night. Our third period was really good, in terms of playing a sixth period in two nights against a fresh team.”
Elliott and Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss each made 35 saves.
NOTES: The Islanders improved to 14-10-4-4 (wins-losses-ties-overtime losses) on Thanksgiving Eve while the Flyers fell to 23-12-4-2. ... The Flyers played on the road on Thanksgiving Eve for the 10th straight non-lockout season. The Islanders have played their last 19 Thanksgiving Eve games at home dating back to 1995. ... The Islanders scratched D Thomas Hickey, D Ryan Pulock and C Alan Quine. ... Islanders RW Cal Clutterbuck returned to the lineup and played 13:13 after missing the previous two games due to illness. ... The Flyers scratched C Jori Lehtera and RW Dale Weise. ... Flyers RW Matt Read was sent to Lehigh Valley of the AHL on Wednesday, two days after he was placed on waivers.