Hudson Fasching of the New York Islanders skates against the...

Hudson Fasching of the New York Islanders skates against the Winnipeg Jets at UBS Arena on Feb. 22, 2023. Credit: Jim McIsaac

PITTSBURGH — Whether Hudson Fasching just had false confidence or truly a strong belief in himself doesn’t matter now. The journeyman forward has made the most out of what he perceived might be his last shot at the NHL.

In doing so, he’s become a key component to the Islanders’ playoff push, which continues with yet another critical game on Thursday night against the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena.

“Honestly, when I got called up, I told myself, ‘Screw it, we’re just going to pretend I’m confident right from the  get-go,' ’'  said Fasching, who was recalled from the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport on Dec. 1. “That was the game plan and we’re just going to run with it, see how it goes. So far so good.

“It’s a tricky thing, confidence. You play six years in the minors, there’s only so many kicks at the can you got. In my mind, it was one of the last shots at it so that’s why I was trying to do that.”

The 27-year-old Fasching, skating on Casey Cizikas’ third line with Josh Bailey, had a goal and an assist in Tuesday night’s 3-2 win over the Sabres at UBS Arena for his first multi-point performance in 71 NHL games. He also dinged a backhander from the slot off the left post in the second period less than three minutes after setting up Cizikas’ goal from behind the crease.

The victory left the Islanders (33-25-8) with a one-point edge over the Penguins (32-22-9), who have played three fewer games, for the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot. The Islanders can sweep the four-game season series from the Penguins.

Fasching, selected by the Kings in the fourth round in 2013, has four goals and six assists in 33 games for the Islanders, already setting career highs in all three categories. He previously bounced between the NHL and the AHL in both the Sabres’ and Coyotes’ organizations before signing a one-year, two-way contract worth $750,000 in the NHL and $200,000 in the AHL with the Islanders on Aug. 23.

“You always try to believe in yourself,” Fasching said. “I always believed if I really had a true opportunity to do it, I could do it. I keep trying to prove that every day. Playing true to myself, I think that’s the biggest thing.”

The 6-3, 205-pound Fasching is well-suited to a bottom-six role with the Islanders. He skates well enough and is responsible defensively. He goes hard on the forecheck and along the walls and his passing shows good on-ice vision.

His somewhat surprising emergence has helped mitigate the Islanders losing forwards Mathew Barzal, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Cal Clutterbuck and Oliver Wahlstrom to injuries. The Islanders have won two straight and are on a 5-1-1 run.

“He’s been great for us,” Bailey said. “Quietly, he just went about his business all season long. He plays a very reliable, 200-foot game. He’s got poise with the puck and he sees the game. He’s made some really good passes and made some big plays for us.”

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