NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Wednesday, January 13, 2016, 12:49 AM
Subpar production from several expected scorers on the Islanders this season only had been compounded lately by recent injuries to the team’s defense corps.
But Brock Nelson continues to do his share offensively, wresting away the team lead in goals from slumping captain John Tavares with his first NHL hat trick in a 5-2 victory Tuesday over John Tortorella and NHL-worst Columbus at Barclays Center.
Nelson scored twice through two periods and then added an empty netter in the closing seconds for 17 goals on the season, just three shy of his career-high total from last year.
“First (hat trick) in a long time, it’s a pretty cool feeling,” Nelson said. “I had one in (AHL) Bridgeport, my first year pro (in 2013). … It’s been a while, but it’s a tough league to score in. It’s just good that it came in a win.”
Ryan Strome also snapped a six-week goal drought and Brian Strait netted his first of the season as the Isles (23-15-5) stormed out to an early 18-5
Brock Nelson (c.) continues his torrid scoring as the Islanders win again.
shot advantage and got back into the win column ahead of Thursday’s home clash with the Rangers.
“A couple of games in a row, we’ve been pretty bad,” Strome said. “You certainly see a difference when we come out and play like that.”
With the Isles suddenly missing two of their top three defensemen (Johnny Boychuk and Travis Hamonic) for multiple weeks, several personal slumps — including three goals in 17 games from Tavares — became magnified in losses by an 8-1 aggregate in the previous two games against Washington and Philadelphia.
But Strome swept home a rebound behind Columbus goalie Anton Forsberg for his first goal in 17 appearances since Nov. 30 five minutes into the game.
Islanders Thomas Greiss (r.) and Adam Pelech (r.) defend the net against Blue Jackets’ Jared Boll.
David Savard made it 2-2 off a turnover by Nikolay Kulemin with a knuckler past Thomas Greiss (18 saves) at 13:49 of the second, but Nelson buried his second of the night with an unassisted flip from the left circle with 2:31 remaining in the period.
Strait connected from the right point for his first of the year 5:34 into the third, before Nelson hit the empty net while being dragged down for his first career three-goal game with 11 seconds remaining.
“Good things happen when Brock gets pucks to the net and tonight he was rewarded,” coach Jack Capuano said. “We obviously hope it continues.”
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