In the hours before game four against the Boston Bruins this past Saturday, Brock Nelson’s wife gave birth to a baby. It’s a moment in his life that he’ll never forget, but he also knew there was another potential moment for him later on that night.
So, hours after his wife gave birth, Nelson was in the lineup for the Islanders’ 4-1 victory in game four.
“He played that night with no sleep,” said Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz. “He said I’m in the lineup. He’s been battling through that. He came to Boston (for game five). We got him to Boston late (Sunday night).”
Nelson scored a goal in the Islanders 5-4 win in game five Monday night and then he scored two goals in Wednesday night’s series-clinching 6-2 victory over the Bruins at Nassau Coliseum. In fact, Nelson scored the series-clinching goal, the second of his career, and now trails only Mike Bossy (6) and Clark Gillies (4) for the most in Islanders history.
And now he’s enjoying some time with his family as the Islanders get ready for the Stanley Cup semifinals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I think you saw him fresh and happy to have a new child with his wife,” said Trotz. “Having his wife home and all that, I just think he settled in and played a Brock Nelson game.”
Not only is Nelson a great family man, but he’s also been a big-game player for the Islanders, especially during the last two post-seasons.
“You’ll always remember moments like that,” said Nelson who now has 22 goals and 17 assists for 39 points in 60 career playoff games. “That was a big game. Just feels good having a full Coliseum there behind you and playing for them. It’s huge. Whenever you have an opportunity to close a team out, you want to bring your best. It feels right.”
In last season’s playoffs, Nelson had 2 goals and 18 assists for 20 points in 22 games and in this year’s post-season he has 5 goals and 6 assists for 11 points in 12 games. He’s certainly found a way to raise his level of play in the playoffs and it’s helped the Islanders reach the NHL’s final four in back-to-back seasons.
“He’s an elite talent,” said Islanders forward Josh Bailey, one of Nelson’s linemates along with Anthony Beauvillier. “There’s no question about that. Beau and I are fortunate to get the opportunity to play with him. A big game player. He’s been a real leader for us and again a big reason why we’re sitting here talking.”
Nelson now has nine career goals in potential series-clinching games and that moves him past Denis Potvin (8), Bobby Nystrom (7) and Bryan Trottier (7) on the Islanders’ all-time list. Only Mike Bossy (23), Bob Bourne (11), Clark Gillies (11), John Tonelli (10) and Butch Goring (10) have scored more.
That puts Nelson in some rarified air when it comes to Islanders post-season history. He’s among names that have their names etched on four straight Stanley Cups won by the Islanders from 1980 to 1983 and now he’s a big part of the Islanders’ recent post-season success.
If Brock Nelson continues to deliver, it will go a long way in helping the Islanders to eight more wins that will be needed to hoist Lord Stanley.