It has taken some time, but Anthony Beauvillier is finally turning the corner this season.
The Islanders forward picked up his fourth point of the year on Saturday night in the Islanders’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was the second straight game that Beauvillier found himself on the scoresheet and it was his third point in his last four games.
“I’m in more game shape now,” Beauvillier said on Saturday. “I don’t really have to adjust anymore and my game is back. It feels like I can make plays out there. I felt like the last couple of games have been a lot better than the first few.”
Beauvillier returned to the Islanders lineup on Feb. 16 in Buffalo following a nine-game absence due to a lower-body injury. It took the 23-year-old forward a couple of games to get his sea legs back under him, but he has become more and more noticeable on the ice since his return.
Beauvillier registered his first point since the season opener against the New York Rangers when he picked up an assist in the Islanders’ loss to Pittsburgh last Saturday. Then he finally scored his first goal of the year against the Boston Bruins on Thursday in their 7-2 win.
“It felt like it took forever, but it feels good now,” Beauvillier said about the first goal. “A little monkey off the back here and hopefully can get things going.”
Even before the injury, had gotten off to a slow start this season. While the young forward wasn’t costing the Islanders games, his offensive contributions were lacking early on. Beauvillier registered a single point through his first five games of the year.
And the goals just weren’t finding their way into the back of the net, which hurt an Islanders team that had been pretty top-heavy when it came to the offense.
“You don’t see him pressing, what you see is a player, I call it hope and poke,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “You hope you’re going to get the puck and you poke at it. And you hope it gets by him rather than just playing the right way and keeping it in front of you and battling through it. Hoping for a break basically.
“I started to see that creep into his game a little bit.”
Beauvillier had been a key contributor during the Islanders’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season. In 22 games, Beauvillier had a career-playoff best nine goals and 14 points.
The lack of production from Beauvillier early on was something that was weighing on him because he knew how important he is to the team, Trotz believed.
“He has a sense of responsibility that’s part of what he does for us,” Trotz said. “I think at the same time he’s got better balance now as a little more mature player of understanding he can contribute in different ways. There’s no question getting that goal and feeling like you’re getting on the right track, it’s got to help. I sensed no question.”