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Anthony Beauvillier finding comfort in hot start to Islanders' season

Anthony Beauvillier of the Islanders celebrates his goal

Anthony Beauvillier of the Islanders celebrates his goal at 1:25 of the third period against the Winnipeg Jets at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on Oct. 6, 2019. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Bruce Bennett

Anthony Beauvillier set up the first goal of the game with a perfect power-play pass and delivered the last one with a backhanded finish. He posted the two points in the Islanders’ 4-1 win over Winnipeg Sunday night at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum to score the honor of first star.

He's their leading point producer with three in the 1-1 start, contributing the goal and two assists.

Yes, it’s a very small sample size. But it took Beauvillier eight games to score his first goal and 20 games to secure his second assist last season. The fast-moving 22-year-old left wing is in his fourth season and could be ready to take another step forward. His comfort level has risen in this second season under Barry Trotz.

“Everyone was learning, I think, last year with a new system,” Beauvillier said after practice Monday for Tuesday night’s homestand-closing game against Edmonton. “I just feel a lot more comfortable this year, and I’m pretty sure all the other guys feel the same way.”

His goal count dropped from 21 in 2017-18 to 18 last season and his assists dipped from 15 to 10.

“I’m just in a better place in my head, I would say,” Beauvillier said. “Put less pressure on myself and just go out there and play and have fun . .  . It’s going to be my mentality for the rest of the year.”

Trotz liked what he saw from Beauvillier in the postseason and is enjoying the current view, too.

“Beau looks like a different player this year,” Trotz said. “A lot of that has to do with the type of playoff he had last year . . . When it’s the most important time of the year and you’re able to elevate your game, it sort of carries over. I think there’s a lot of confidence in that and who he’s playing with, and they’re having success.”

Now he’s playing on the third line with a veteran newcomer, center Derick Brassard. They lived together for a month in Garden City, spending time during the summer talking about the coming season. The chemistry has been good.

“I know he’s got some great potential,” Brassard said. “He’s still a young guy. He’s trying to improve every day. That’s the one thing that I noticed. He competes hard, and he’s got a really good shot. He’s got all the tools to become a really solid player.”

Beauvillier isn’t shooting for a certain amount of points.

“But I’m just looking to feel good about myself, feel good about the team, and get wins,” he said. “I think that’s the key to have success.”

Notes & quotes: Casey Cizikas (lower body) didn’t practice. He played in both games after getting hurt in the preseason finale, but Trotz said, “He’s still a little bit banged up,” and added that sitting out practice is a part of a “maintenance” process that will continue “until it’s fully healed.” . . . Josh Bailey will be playing in his 800th NHL game.

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