Kieffer Bellows said he was planning to give the puck from his first NHL goal to his parents, who were both in attendance at Barclays Center for Thursday’s Islanders-Kings game. It’s an easy decision when you’ve got a second puck to spare.
Bellows scored the first two goals of his NHL career on Thursday night as the Isles recorded a 5-3 comeback win over the LA Kings, marking a night the 21-year-old will never forget.
Bellows’ first came at 10:22 of the second period, as he cashed in an Anthony Beauvillier feed at the side of the net to cut the Kings lead to 3-2. He delivered an emphatic fist pump before being mobbed by his teammates and earning a big hug from Johnny Boychuk.
“It was a pretty special moment,” Bellows said of his first goal. “I was pretty speechless at the time, I didn’t really know what to do, but once I got back to the bench, it was move on, forget about it and focus on the next shift.”
Bellows left his mark on the game in the third period, scoring his first-career game-winning goal to put the Isles ahead 4-3. An instinctual scorer, Bellows threw a sharp-angled shot on net from the left corner, catching Jonathan Quick out of position after Derick Brassard‘s initial drive. Bellows said scoring in a win made his first two goals that much sweeter.
“I saw Quick was out of the net and decided to throw one on net and luckily enough it went in,” Bellows said. “Any time you can score and help the team win and get two points – especially at this time of the year going into a playoff run – is huge.”
The 2016 first-round pick (19th overall) has given a jolt to the Islanders in his two games with the club, especially to the team’s third line. Brassard has three points (1G, 2A) in his two games with Bellows, while Michael Dal Colle has a goal and an assist. Brassard, a veteran of 836 games more than Bellows, has been impressed by the rookie thus far.
“I’ve watched him play in the past at the World Juniors and stuff, so I always knew he was a good goal scorer,” Brassard said. “When you’re a young guy and it’s your first game, you focus on little things and if you score goals it’s a bonus a bit. But he’s been playing really well away from the puck and forechecks and he’s hard and he got rewarded tonight.”
Head Coach Barry Trotz said he felt Bellows showed that he “belonged” after his NHL debut on Tuesday – where he recorded an assist for his first-career point – and liked the rookie’s game on Thursday.
“He can skate in the league,” Trotz said. “I know he has enough intelligence and enough calmness in his game. He has an understanding of the game, he’s hard on pucks and producing. He gives me no reason to think he couldn’t do it. The trick is to do it long haul.”
Bellows didn’t look nervous in his debut and said the confidence instilled from Trotz, his teammates and his overall play in his debut bled over into Thursday’s game. No doubt that confidence should extend to Saturday.
“Coming into this game I felt a little bit more relaxed, more patient on the ice with my decision making and all my shooting and everything,” Bellows said. “I had confidence tonight, but it’s confidence that’s built off of my teammates here, and my line mates and the support they’ve given me and the coaching staff.”
Brassard said he didn’t say much to Bellows in the way of advice. The veteran remembers breaking into the league and all the nerves, excitement and pressure that come with it.
“I just said have fun,” Brassard said.
Funny, “have fun” is written underneath the brim of Kieffer Bellows‘ hat, a simple reminder for the rookie as he embarks on his NHL journey.
Two games – and two goals – in, the journey is off to a heck of a start, and appears to be a lot of fun.