Golden Knights edge Islanders 4-3 in SO in Lehner's return
By ALLAN KREDA
NEW YORK (AP) Shea Theodore scored twice and added another in the shootout, former Islander Robin Lehner made 29 saves and the Vegas Golden Knights beat New York 4-3 on Sunday for their fifth straight victory.
Theodore scored on the Golden Knights' first shootout attempt after his second goal of the game tied it with 48 seconds remaining in regulation. Nicholas Roy also scored for Vegas in the shootout as the Golden Knights won for the eighth time in nine games.
"It was fun game to play today. It was nice to get the win," said Lehner, who helped the Islanders reach the playoffs in 2018-19, his lone season with the team. "It was a hard-fought game. It was fun to win in the shootout."
An emotional Lehner, whose public acknowledgement of his struggles with depression and mental illness endeared him to the Islanders fan base, said his return and subsequent victory on Sunday extended well beyond hockey.
"There are so many factors to Long Island the people here," he said. "They gave me back the love for hockey and me and my family the love for life again. It was emotional seeing everyone."
Theodore scored his second goal of the game with Lehner pulled for an extra skater. He shot from the top of the high slot just inside the blueline. Jonathan Marchessault also scored in regulation for Vegas.
"We stuck with it, we're a resilient team,? Marchessault said. "We won't quit in any game. We're trying to stay in the fight always."
The tying goal came after Jean-Gabriel Pageau put the Islanders ahead 3-2 with 2:20 left in the third. Kieffer Bellows and Brock Nelson also scored for New York, and Ilya Sorokin made 31 saves.
"I thought in the third period we were really good. We needed a clear or a block right at the end and we didn't get it,? Islanders coach Barry Trotz said.
The Golden Knights completed a three-game sweep of New York-area teams, having defeated the Devils on Thursday and the Rangers on Friday. Vegas also beat Boston to start the trip.
"I don't think anyone ever predicts you can sweep a four-game road trip,? Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer said. "Our game is starting to trend in a good direction."
Witnessing the outpouring for Lehner at UBS Arena impressed Marchessault.
"I couldn't believe it how he's so appreciated here," Marchessault said. "I was really happy to be part of that and to see that."
During a short video tribute early in the first period, Lehner pointed to a tattoo in the shape of Long Island on his neck and gave the cheering crowd a thumbs up while standing near the Golden Knights bench.
"It's been a long time. I've been anxious to get back," he said. "I wanted to show my appreciation and give back a little bit of what they gave to me."
Lehner even shaved his beard before the game, adhering to the rules put forth by his former general manager, Lou Lamoriello.
"I did it for him, no one else," Lehner said. "He's one of the best GMs in the league. I respect him more than most. What a man he is, same with Trotz."
MORE COVID-19 MISSING
The Islanders announced before the game that left wing Matt Martin and defenseman Robin Salo were placed in the health and safety protocol, joining center Mathew Barzal, who missed his third straight game.
NOTES: Islanders defenseman Zdeno Chara played in his 1,631st NHL game, four games behind Scott Stevens among defensemen. Chris Chelios is first with 1,651. The 44-year-old Chara is 11th overall in NHL games. . The Islanders honored defenseman Andy Greene with a pregame ceremony for his 1,000th game, which he played Nov. 15 at Tampa Bay.
Islanders: Monday's home game against Montreal has been postponed. The next scheduled game is home against Washington on Thursday.
Golden Knights: Host Tampa Bay on Tuesday night.
Updated December 20, 2021