Goalies around the league: take notice. When Anthony Beauvillier is within five-feet of the crease, cover the puck. Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark made that mistake on Saturday, and the speedy forward set up the first of three goals the Islanders scored that night. Beauviller has been playing terrific hockey as of late, and it showed on the scoresheet Saturday afternoon.
When Anthony Beauvillier is successful, three things about his game stand out. First, he is a tenacious forechecker. When his linemates dump the puck in, he works tirelessly to retrieve it and create offense.
Helping him get to the “dirty areas” is his blazing speed. Beauvillier is arguably the second-fastest skater on the team after Mat Barzal. He accelerates quickly which helps him evade defenders and create time and space for himself in the offensive zone.
When given the opportunity, Beauvillier has an incredible shot. He’s shooting at over 15% this season. He had the same shooting percentage when he scored 21 goals two-years ago, and has a career 12.8 shooting percentage. His forehand and backhand are both lethal. He has little trouble elevating the puck, which actually helps him score when he is close to the net. All three of these attributes were on display on Saturday.
On Michael Dal Colle’s goal, Beauvillier sprinted to cut off Ullmark’s pass behind the net. With just a glance over his shoulder, he saw Dal Colle with his stick in position, ready to score. He got him the puck and the Islanders drew first blood.
On the second goal, Beauvillier saw Brock Nelson battling behind the net. Looking to outnumber the opposition, he swooped in and freed the puck. Nelson was able to get the puck on Jordan Eberle’s stick, and the Islanders took back the lead.
Finally in overtime, Nelson made a great defensive play, which created a turnover. Beauvillier recognized that, picked up the puck, and got on his horse. After a few quick strides and a pick from Nelson, Beauvillier scored top shelf on Ullmark, and the Islanders won 3-2.
Beauvillier has developed into a true top-6 forward this season. His teammates have seen it firsthand.
“He’s been playing confident,” Nelson said. “He’s not overthinking things, he’s just going out there and playing and having fun. He’s a big part of the offense.”
Beauvillier’s skating, shot and strength have helped him realize his full potential. It’s no surprise he’s emerged as a leader on the team. When Beauvillier is playing well, the Islanders are playing well.