Derick Brassard’s return to center, his natural position, didn’t last long.
Coach Barry Trotz, looking to jumpstart the Islanders’ sluggish offense, switched Brassard back to Brock Nelson’s right wing along with Anthony Beauvillier in the second period of Wednesday night’s 5-4 win over the Maple Leafs at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.
“They started generating some chances,” Trotz said. “I stayed with it for good luck, I guess.”
Brassard, who had played on Nelson’s right wing the previous eight games, finished with a power-play goal and two assists in 14:37 as he tied for the team high with five shots. He has thrived offensively on Nelson’s second line, with all five of his even-strength goals in a nine-game stretch after struggling earlier this season to adapt his offensive instincts into the defensive demands of Trotz’s system as the third-line center.
Brassard’s initial move back to center was the result of Leo Komarov returning to the Islanders lineup after missing a combination of nine games because of neck soreness and illness.
Trotz opted to use Komarov on right wing – he had substituted earlier this season as a fourth-line center with Casey Cizikas injured – on Brassard’s line with Michael Dal Colle.
Josh Bailey started the game on Nelson’s right wing.
“Brassard and Bailey are both sort of Swiss Army knives,” Trotz said. “They’ll go back and forth a little bit on both.”
“I’m just going to try and play again, it doesn’t matter where it is,” Brassard added.
Bailey played in his 814th NHL game, all with the Islanders, tying him with Bob Bourne for fifth place on the franchise’s all-time games played list. His assist on Casey Cizikas’ empty-net goal was the 300th of his career…Defenseman Ryan Pulock had two assists.…Defenseman Johnny Boychuk had four of the Islanders’ 22 blocked shots and was credited with a game-high eight hits…Forward Otto Koivula and defenseman Noah Dobson were the healthy scratches.