New York Islanders
Islanders Second Line Keeps Thriving in Stanley Cup Playoffs
Just past the halfway mark of the second period on Saturday, New York Islanders winger Josh Bailey took a long outlet pass and weaved his way into the offensive zone.
The winger patiently pulled the defense out of position before he fed Brock Nelson, who used the backside to sneak into the zone for a goal midway through the second period. The goal sealed the Islanders’ 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 7 and punched the Islanders ticket to the Eastern Conference Final.
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It was not only fitting for how well the Islanders offense clicked in the NHL postseason, but it continued the trend of consistent offensive production from the Islanders’ second line.
“Whenever you have a lead, you can’t sit back,” Nelson said. “It was nice to get that third one and go up a bit more. (Thomas Greiss) had a couple of big stops to keep them at zero — 1-0, 2-0 — and then getting that one gives you a little more of a cushion. I thought we did a good job of staying on it, not sitting back and waiting for a wave from them.”
Great patience from Josh Bailey to set up Brock Nelson on the backdoor for the #Isles third goal of the night pic.twitter.com/6EXwHXWQkH
— Andrew Battifarano (@AndrewAtBatt) September 6, 2020
In the series clincher, Nelson tallied three points, Bailey garnered two, and Anthony Beauvillier recorded an empty-net goal with six minutes remaining in the game.
The advanced stats (according to Natural Stat Trick) painted an even brighter picture of Nelson. He led the team with a 68% Corsi, which was 20 points higher than the relative team average.
As a group, the Beauvillier-Nelson-Bailey line finished with a 62.5% Corsi. The trio generated chances and it directly led to two goals that put away Philadelphia.
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New York has generated plenty of offense through the first three rounds of the NHL postseason. The Islanders are third among remaining teams with 3.375 goals per game. Against Philadelphia, the Islanders scored at least three goals in all seven games.
“Everybody wants to score goals and get on the attack, I thought we had a pretty balanced scoresheet up and down our roster,” Nelson said. “Contributions from the D today, every line getting in on it. Guys stepping up, making plays at the right time.”
Bailey leads the team with 17 postseason points. He is tied for eighth among all skaters. Nelson ranks second on the club and tied for 12th in the overall playoff picture for skaters. Beauvillier is tops on the Islanders with eight postseason goals while Nelson is tied for second with seven.
Beauvillier used the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs as a breakout, of sorts. He had a career-high 39 points this season, after just two points in eight playoff games last season. Since entering the bubble, the 23-year-old has found new life and added a highlight-reel goal in the final game against the Washington Capitals.
Except for Game 3, the players on the second line registered a point in every game of the series. In the postseason, the line has contributed at least one point in 13 of 16 games.
Bailey and Nelson’s contributions led to a reversal from their Game 7 against Washington in 2015, when the Islanders put just 11 shots on goal and lost.
This time, offense was not an issue for the New York Islanders, and that was especially true from the players who experienced that 2015 loss.
“I’m sure everybody remembers that day, it wasn’t our best game,” Nelson said. “And it’s always tough losing a Game 7; that’s what you play for in the playoffs. Getting this one tonight definitely feels good. Guys have put in work over the years — this year and everybody — to get it done.”