Ryan Donato knew he couldn’t afford to let a golden opportunity to get himself back into the fold pass him by.
Donato, recalled Wednesday after a demotion to Providence of the AHL, grabbed the puck and charged toward the net on the Boston Bruins’ fourth attempt in a shootout Thursday night.
The 22-year-old left wing deked right and tucked the puck past New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner to give Boston a 2-1 win.
Donato hopes that will be enough to earn himself another extended look with the big club.
“It was big. You want to make sure you have an immediate impact on the game, show the coaches and staff that you developed in your time (at Providence),” Donato said. “I tried to do that to the best of my abilities, and hopefully I proved that to them today.”
Donato was sent to Providence on Nov. 1 after a disappointing start to his second NHL season, scoring just one goal in 11 games. The former Harvard standout had five goals and four assists in 12 games a season ago.
“We know he can score, so he was going to be in the rotation. We just weren’t sure where,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Clearly Tuukka (Rask) obviously gave him that chance to go, and he took advantage of it.”
Rask stymied the Islanders with 28 saves and Brad Marchand scored in regulation for the Bruins, who ended up in their first shootout this season.
Anders Lee had a goal and Lehner made 35 saves for the Islanders, who lost their second straight game.
Lehner allowed just one goal in regulation after giving up three or more in four consecutive starts.
“Tuukka had a great game and kept us out of it, but so did Lehnny,” Lee said. “He played an incredible game. It comes down to the shootout, one of those things. Worst-case scenario, (it’s) a point on the road.”
New York had a goal waved off with 3:47 to play in overtime after Anthony Beauvillier fell behind Rask in the crease before Mathew Barzal flipped the puck over the goaltender.
Lee, the Islanders’ captain, netted his eighth goal of the season with 7:43 left in the first period, poking a rebound through Rask’s pads after Scott Mayfield sent the puck on net from the right circle.
Lee’s goal came seconds after a delayed penalty drawn by Barzal.
Marchand tied it for Boston with 7:51 to play in the second following Nick Leddy’s high-sticking penalty. Marchand rocketed a one-timer from the right circle off a feed from David Pastrnak.
Marchand’s tally snapped a seven-game goal drought and was his first since scoring once in a 4-1 win against Vegas on Nov. 11.
The Islanders and Bruins meet twice more this season, next on Feb. 5 in Boston.