Facing elimination in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup semifinal series against the Lightning on Wednesday night, Anthony Beauvillier hadn’t scored in the previous 10 games, dating back to the Islanders’ second-round series-opener against Boston.
But the second-line winger chose an opportune time to end his scoring drought and record the most important goal of his team’s playoff run so far to secure a 3-2 victory in overtime at Nassau Coliseum, forcing a winner-take-all Game 7, set for 8 p.m. Friday night at Tampa Bay.
“Honestly, I kind of blacked out a little bit,” Beauvillier said after the Nassau Coliseum crowd gave the ice a beer shower following No. 18’s game-winner. “[The Lightning] turned the puck over I think and then saw it go in — like I said, I kind of blacked out. I was just so happy, was screaming and everyone kind of jumped on me. Obviously, amazing feeling and couldn’t be more happy.
“A really big game from everyone and everyone wants to go back to Tampa for Game 7 and we earned the opportunity to do that.”
Beauvillier’s goal from the slot just over a minute into the extra period was his fifth of the postseason, to go along with eight assists through 18 games. The Islanders’ second unit of Beauvillier, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey have now combined for 18 goals this postseason, the most out of all four lines.
Earlier in the series, Barry Trotz said he believed Beauvillier had another level he could go to. The Lightning has done a tremendous job of stifling the aforementioned trio, which Trotz acknowledged, but the Islanders coach pointed out that the team would need more from them in order to combat Tampa Bay’s offensive prowess.
“It doesn’t matter if you score every night, you just have to do the right things,” Beauvillier said. “I definitely got the monkey off my back there, though.”
Center Mathew Barzal assisted on both the Islanders’ goals to complete the comeback in regulation and force overtime, with the first coming on Jordan Eberle’s tally at 14:22 of the second and the other on Scott Mayfield’s equalizer at 11:16 of the third.
“I thought that was Mat’s best game of the season,” Trotz said. “He was using his skill set, he was making good decisions and he was playing all 200 feet of the ice, which is big. He was a factor.”
The Islanders went to overtime for the fifth time this postseason and the second time on home ice. Improving to 1-1 in OT at the Coliseum, the Isles are now 4-1 after playing into extra periods.
“I said stick to the process, stick to what we’re doing,” Trotz said of his message to the team before overtime. “These are the great moments. Manage the puck. Do all the things we did the first three periods. And just make sure we’re on our toes.”