Nelson helps Isles tune up for Blueshirts
Winger Nets Hat Trick in 5-2 Win over League-Worst Blue Jackets
The Blueshirts are coming! The Blueshirts are coming!
With their second showdown against the arch rival Rangers looming, the New York Islanders kicked their offense back into gear Tuesday night at Downtown’s Barclays Center, getting three goals and an assist from Brock Nelson en route to a 5-2 victory over NHL-worst Columbus in front of 13,115 fans on the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.
New York (23-15-5, 51 points) had managed just one tally in dropping back-to-back games vs. Washington and at Philadelphia, respectively, before jumping on the Blue Jackets (15-24-4, 34 points) with Ryan Strome’s fourth goal of the season just over five minutes into play.
“It’s a good start. I don’t know what happened in Philly [during Saturday’s 4-0 loss],” Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said. “You have to work as a unit of five every time you’re on the ice. It comes down to the grit and determination when you’re in the game.”
“It was good to come out and put the pressure on,” added Nelson, who snapped a 1-1 deadlock later in the opening stanza.
Nelson put New York in front to stay late in the second period, giving the Islanders a 3-2 lead with 2 1/2 minutes remaining off an assist from Anders Lee.
“That’s how we need to play,” Nelson added. “It’s a good bounce back after the effort on Saturday.”
After defenseman Brian Strait’s first goal of the season made it 4-2 in the third, Nelson put the Blue Jackets to bed with an unassisted empty-net tally, watching the puck slide across the crease from his belly.
“First hat trick in a long time. Pretty cool feeling,” noted the 24-year-old Nelson, who hadn’t potted three goals in a single game since his American Hockey League days.
Nelson took over the team lead in goals with 17 as the Islanders improved to 14-7-2 at home this season, once again donning their black-and-white Brooklyn-themed jerseys instead of their traditional blue and orange.
He and the Isles will try to keep the pedal to the metal when they host the Rangers Thursday for the second time in their new home.
On Dec. 2, the Isles pulled out a 2-1 shootout victory over the Rangers here as Kyle Okposo beat Henrik Lundqvist for the lone goal during the extra session in front of a sellout crowd of 15,795 at Barclays.
The building figures to be jammed to the rafters yet again on Thursday, and the Isles hope for another fast start against the team they are currently deadlocked with for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
I’m sure everyone will be ready for the Rangers,” Isles forward Cal Clutterbuck said.
“We have to come out against the Rangers the same way,” added Strome.
Isle Have Another: Thomas Greiss backstopped Tuesday’s win with 18 saves, but Jaroslav Halak, who outdueled Lundqvist here last month, will likely be back between the pipes against the Rangers Thursday … Strome’s opening tally Tuesday snapped a 100-minute goalless drought for the Islanders … John Tavares had an assist in Tuesday’s win, giving him his first point in four games. The Isles’ team captain and two-time Hart Trophy (MVP) finalist trails Nelson by two goals for the team lead … The Islanders are 17-1-2 when leading after two periods this season, 19-2 when scoring at least three goals and 16-3-2 when scoring the game’s opening goal … New York is 8-3-2 against Metropolitan Division opponents this season … By blanking the Blue Jackets on six power-play chances, the Isles boosted their Eastern Conference-best penalty-killing average to 87 percent. Only Anaheim (89.7 percent) is better in the entire NHL.
In local high school sports news this week, senior Quran Davis reached a very special milestone for the Brooklyn Friends boys’ varsity basketball team Tuesday, registering his 1,000th career point in the Blue Pride’s home game against LREI.
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