It’s a line the New York Islanders need to see offense out of and Thursday it led the charge in their 6-2 drubbing of the Montreal Canadiens. New York’s second line accounted for a combined eight points between Brock Nelson, Anthony Beauvillier and Kyle Palmieri in the win.
It was a major change from where that line started the year to where things have progressed.
When the year began, the Islanders second line struggled to put up many points as the team sputtered out of the gate. Nelson and Beauvillier each registered a single goal through the first four games of the year, but things have changed rapidly since head coach Barry Trotz adjusted the lines and moved Kyle Palmieri to the second line and Nelson and Beauvillier have benefited from the change.
Brock Nelson has seven points (five goals, two assists) in his last four games, which was highlighted by Thursday’s four-goal performance against Montreal. Nelson tied a club record for most goals in a road game and became just the seventh player in franchise history to do so.
“It’s nice to chip in and get a couple,” Nelson said. “I thought our line played well. A byproduct of a couple of nice plays. (Palmieri) had a nice backhand touch on the first one. A couple of good plays from (Beauvillier) too. It’s always nice to have a big night and when your line is contributing and all a factor, it feels good.”
The hometown Beauvillier had a season-high three points in the game, all of which came on assists off Nelson’s goals.
It was Beauvillier’s smart play with the puck that allowed the Islanders so many scoring chances on Thursday. A quick pass from the neutral zone allowed the opportunity to develop on Nelson’s first goal of the night.
His quick skating into the offensive zone and positioning helped Nelson find the back of the net on his second goal and that came in handy again on a 2-on-1 rush later in the second period that allowed Nelson to complete the hat trick. Naturally, when the topic of his play came up, Beauvillier deflected the question after the game.
“Not necessarily my play. I think we had a lot of good guys going tonight,” Beauvillier said. “Our line was good tonight, (Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s) line. It’s not really about me. It’s about everyone. We had a really good start and Ilya (Sorokin) was really good for us tonight. It’s a team win, an identity win. Everyone is happy and we’ll get out of here with two points.”
The addition of Palmieri onto the line has helped immensely to turn Nelson and Beauvillier’s fortunes around. Palmieri played a hand in Nelson’s opening goal of the night.
After Nelson charged through a Montreal defender the puck slid to Palmieri, who quickly got the puck and impressively sent it back to Nelson as another Montreal defender was draped on him.
“(Palmieri) is great,” Brock Nelson said. “He’s a good player. He’s smart. He’s strong on pucks, he’s able to get in there and create some turnovers. Make some plays and he’s got a great shot. Brings a little bit of everything, which is nice. Pretty north/south, easy to read off of.”
“We had a lot of guys going tonight. We had a really good start tonight and Ilya was really good tonight. It’s a team win.”
Beauvillier & Nelson ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/5hlBIOCYkq
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) November 5, 2021
The Islanders have picked up points over their last six games and have progressively looked more like themselves as their historic 13-game road trip has progressed. It’s no coincidence that the Islanders’ offense has picked it up at the same time the second line has seemingly found their game.
The offensive contributions of the second line have been part of the formula New York has used in their back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup Semifinals. And the expectations are there for it to play a big role again this season, especially Beauvillier who head coach Barry Trotz expects to have a breakout season very soon.
“He’s grown as a player,” Trotz said before the win. “His confidence has grown. He’s been a very important player for us. My trust in him continues to grow. I think he’s going to have a breakout season where he’s going to have a big jump in totals. If it happens this year or next year, I’m not sure. But I think it’s coming.”