Calling him a steal would be an understatement. Drafted 152nd overall by the New York Islanders in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Anders Lee has turned out to be one of the best goal scorers in the National Hockey League. Having played parts of five seasons in the NHL, here are the top 10 moments of Lee’s career so far.
10. Lee’s First-Line Debut (Feb. 3, 2015)
Feb. 3 was the start of something special. Dealing with the loss of Kyle Okposo due to an eye injury, the Islanders were desperately searching for a first-line trio that could produce. They decided that for this game against the Florida Panthers at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, they would try Lee, a rookie at the time, on the first line with John Tavares and Josh Bailey.
That choice paid off just 1:46 in, as Lee finished off a tic-tac-toe play with Tavares and Bailey to open the scoring. Lee also scored later in the second period, tipping home a Travis Hamonic shot to tie the game at 2-2, but his two goals would be the only two for New York in an eventual 4-2 loss. However, the game foreshadowed the wonderful chemistry that the Lee, Tavares, and Bailey would develop for years to come.
9. Lee Scores Go-Ahead Goal Against Penguins (Mar. 8, 2016)
Nearly a month away from the playoffs, the Islanders hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins in an important divisional matchup. With the game tied at 1-1 and with the Islanders on the power play, Lee was battling for position in front of the Penguin goal with defenseman Kris Letang. While that was happening, Frans Nielsen got the puck to point setting up a shot from Nick Leddy that deflected off Lee and in just as he knocked Letang down to the ice, giving the Islanders a 2-1 lead.
The goal came with just over 11 minutes to go in the third period and would prove to be the go-ahead goal, giving the Islanders a huge two points in a 2-1 win while handing the eventual Stanley Cup Champions a regulation loss.
8. Lee Scores Back-to-Back GWGs (Dec. 19, Dec. 20, 2014)
In late December, the Islanders were faced with back-to-back games on their schedule and both ended with the same man as the hero: Anders Lee. On Dec. 19 in Detroit, Lee crashed the crease, located a loose puck that Petr Mrazek thought he had covered, and jammed it home to give the Isles a 2-1 lead with just over 9:15 to go in the second period. That goal held out to be the winner as the Islanders defeated the Red Wings and then headed back to Long Island for a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning the following day.
Despite playing a close game in Detroit the night prior, the Islanders came out flying. They were the better team from the second the puck dropped but they couldn’t solve rookie goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who was having the game of his life. And with 10:44 to go in the third period, Vasilevskiy’s heroics looked to have paid off his team when his team opened the scoring off a deflection from Brett Connolly.
The Islanders stayed with it but no matter what they did, they couldn’t beat Vasilevskiy. Finally, with 3:09 to go, John Tavares found a way. From the hash-marks and while falling, Tavares looked to the sky as if he was thanking the Hockey Gods as the Islanders tied it up at 1-1.
Twelve seconds later, Travis Hamonic wristed one towards the net and Lee got a piece of it, deflecting it past Vasilevskiy to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead. Nikolay Kulemin put home the empty-netter with 1:11 to go, and the Isles were rewarded with a 3-1 win.
7. Lee Forces Overtime in Dallas (Mar. 3, 2015)
Down 2-1 in Dallas, the Islanders frantically searched for a way to tie it but their last hope came on a rush from Ryan Strome with just over 11 seconds to go. In his own zone, Strome picked up a puck that the Stars had attempted to put into the empty net and carried it up ice and into the Dallas zone. Once crossing the blue line he found Hamonic who’s shot to the net was blocked and so the puck bounced over to Lee along the boards.
In a desperate, last-second attempt, Lee threw the puck towards the net and it wound up deflecting off one of Jordie Benn’s skates and in the net with 1.1 seconds on the clock. The game went to overtime and Cody Eakin delivered the winner for the Stars off a 2-on-1 with Jamie Benn but getting a point was huge for the Islanders.
6. Lee Ties Game Late Against Winnipeg (Mar. 3, 2016)
It appears that Lee has a flair for the dramatics. One year after tying the game in Dallas, Lee rose to the occasion yet again. On Mar. 3 in Winnipeg, the Islanders found themselves knotted up at 2-2 with the Jets. But with 2:03 to go in regulation, Mark Scheifele put the Jets ahead. Fast forward to the final 30 seconds of the game and the Islanders were searching for the equalizer with their net empty.
Strome carried the puck in for the Islanders and left it from Nielsen. Nielsen put it on a platter for Leddy who one-timed it one goal and Lee was there to redirect it past Michael Hutchinson and to tie the game at 3-3. The game-tying goal came with 28.3 seconds to go and forced overtime in which Kyle Okposo would deliver the winner for the Islanders.
5. Lee Sets New Career-High, Passes Mark Parrish (Mar. 18, 2018)
On Mar. 18 against the Carolina Hurricanes, Lee scored twice but the Hurricanes ultimately won 4-3. Lee’s first goal, coming off a rebound in front, tied the game at 2-2 and also tied his career-high for goals in a season with goal No. 34.
Later in the game and on the power play, Lee tapped in a perfect feed from Josh Bailey past Scott Darling to tie the game at 3-3. The goal, his 35th of the season, set a new career-high but also moved him up on the Islanders’ all-time scoring list as he passed Mark Parrish with career goal #119. Seconds after scoring, Lee quite literally passed Parrish who was between the benches providing analysis for MSG Networks and accepted a congratulatory fist-bump from Parrish.
“I couldn’t help myself, I saw that he was the first one leading the way and I kind of saw him looking out of the corner of his eye with a smirk and I jumped in on one of the little things I missed about the game,” Parrish told Cory Wright of NewYorkIslanders.com after the game. “It was pretty cool, I was really excited. I’ve been living vicariously through him as it is.”
4. Lee Wastes No Time, Scores Early Into His NHL Debut (Apr. 2, 2013)
With his parents in attendance, Anders Lee made his NHL debut on Apr. 2, 2013, against the Winnipeg Jets at Nassau Coliseum. With 3:47 remaining in the first period, Lee received a pass from Matt Martin and took his first NHL shot heading down the left wing. The shot fooled and caught a standing Ondrej Pavelec by surprise, opening the scoring and giving Lee his first NHL goal.
The game was the first of two NHL games Lee played during the 2012-13 season and he had an assist in the second before being returned to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL.
3. Lee Recalled from Bridgeport, Ties Game Late Twice (Feb. 27, 2014)
Coming back from the Olympic break, the Islanders had to come to terms with the fact that their captain, John Tavares, would miss the remainder of the season with an injury suffered while playing for Team Canada. As a result, the team recalled Mike Halmo, Lee, and Strome from Bridgeport.
With only two games of NHL experience under his belt, Lee was in the lineup for the team’s first game back from the break, a home game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
With 8:24 to go in the third period of a close 2-2 game, Dion Phaneuf scored on a one-timer to put the Leafs ahead 3-2. One minute and 15 seconds later, on the power play, Lee taps home an unbelievable pass from Bailey at ties it.
One minute and three seconds after Lee tied it, Joffrey Lupul restored Toronto’s lead with Lupul chipping a backhander past Evgeni Nabokov. So with 2:40 to go in regulation, it was Lee who tied it up yet again, receiving a perfect pass from behind the goal courtesy of Strome and forcing it through the legs of Jonathan Bernier.
After a wild second half of the third period, the score remained 4-4 after regulation time and in overtime, it was Lubomir Visnovsky taking advantage of a turnover in the Leafs’ zone and slapping one past Bernier for the overtime winner.
2. Lee Secures Victory for the Islanders on NBCSN (Nov. 30, 2016)
The Islanders don’t find themselves on national television often but Nov. 30 was a rare occasion as they hosted the Penguins in Brooklyn with the game being televised on NBCSN. After the end of two periods of play, up 3-0, the Isles look to have had this Wednesday Night Rivalry game in the bag. However, Pittsburgh scored three unanswered goals of their own in the third period and managed to tie the game.
With the final seconds dwindling down, Lee saved the Islanders from being embarrassed on national television, tipping home the go-ahead goal of a shot from Thomas Hickey with 26.8 seconds to go. Three seconds later, Kulemin sealed the deal with an empty-netter and the Islanders won 5-3.
1. Lee Scores Goal No. 40 in Season Finale (Apr. 7, 2018)
To many, Anders Lee’s 34-goal 2016-17 campaign was a fluke. If they could get around 25 goals from him next season, the critics would say, they would be satisfied. Well, headed into the final game of the regular-season Lee was sitting on 39 goals, proving almost everyone wrong.
Through two periods, Lee was still searching for his 40th goal. Then, 6:25 into the third period, he got it. Lee was in his usual spot in front of the goal where Mathew Barzal was able to get it to him. Lee, with his back to the goal, then roofed a beautiful backhander past Jared Coreau and officially became a 40-goal scorer.
From a sixth-round pick to a 40-goal scorer…there aren’t too many you can say that about but Anders Lee is one of them. Thirty-four goals two seasons ago, 40 last year, and Lee is turning into one of the most underrated superstars in the league while creating some great moments along the way.
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