On a night in which he became the 30th Islander in franchise history to play in 500 games with the club, Brock Nelson scored the overtime winner to lift the Islanders to a record-setting 4-3 victory on Thursday night.
The 28-year-old scored the Islanders’ final two goals of the night — a go-ahead snipe with 4:32 left in the game that was canceled out by a Patric Hornqvist jab with 29.9 seconds to go.
“The way it played out, it’ s something you’ll remember for a while,” Nelson said. “Right now, it’s just a big win for us.”
With that one point secured when regulation ended, though, the Islanders secured a point in their 16th-straight game (15-0-1) for a new franchise record.
New York has not lost a game in regulation since Oct. 11, breaking the record of 15-straight games set in 1978, 1980, and 1982.
But head coach Barry Trotz isn’t patting anyone on the back just yet.
“I haven’t really thought about it, honestly,” Trotz said. “I guess that’s something if you ask me at the end of the year. This group just focuses and stays in the moment.”
Now with a record of 16-3-1 this year, this is the best start through 20 games of a season in franchise history.
“It’s special,” Nelson said. “It’s something we haven’t really thought about much. Just taking it day by day. Looking back, though, we’ll remember it forever.”
Nelson’s heroics were just his latest triumphs in the middle of a hot streak. He scored a pair in the first leg of the Islanders’ home-and-home on Tuesday against the Penguins which also included an overtime winner.
“He’s Mr. Overtime,” Islanders winger Anthony Beauvillier said. “He’s a really good player and he just got the job done again.”
Just like they did on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, though, the Islanders had to come from behind twice to keep their point streak intact.
Evgeni Malkin put the visitors in front just 1;04 into the game in a first period that was largely dominated by the Penguins.
The Islanders could only muster five shots during the frame, but Scott Mayfield’s slapper with 4:48 remaining in the frame managed to beat Murray.
“Our starts have to be better,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “We’ve had to dig ourselves out of a few holes these last few games… Getting through the first period was key for us.”
In an almost carbon-copy, the Penguins took the lead early in the second period — just 1:09 in — when Bryan Rust picked up his third goal in as many games.
But the Islanders answered with a streaker of their own in Beauvillier, who buried a deflected slapshot with a tough-angled wrister of a finish 10 minutes later at the tail end of a four-minute power play committed by Jake Guentzel.
“You just have to enjoy it,” Beauvillier said of his streak. “You never know when it’s going to stop… It just keeps going in the back of the net.”
The Islanders had a season-high seven power plays, which was the most the team has had during Trotz’s tenure as head coach.
They went 2-of-7 on the night.
It was Beauvillier’s sixth goal in the last four games after going 13 without one between Oct. 11 and Nov. 7.
As it’s been the theme throughout their win streak, the third period belonged to the Islanders with their second power play of the evening lasting just four seconds before Nelson snapped a wrister off the face-off past Murray.
But a late flurry by the Penguins resulted in Hornqvist equalizer when he jammed a loose puck in a scrum in front of goalie Thomas Greiss.
Regardless, the Islanders were able to gain ground on the Metropolitan Division-leading Washington Capitals — who have played four more games than New York — cutting their lead to just three points.