Brock Nelson has eight goals over his last 12 games...

Brock Nelson has eight goals over his last 12 games and is three goals shy of matching his career high of 26 with 27 games remaining. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Islanders have struggled to be consistent this season. Brock Nelson has not.

The top-six center remains one of the key reasons the Islanders may still have a glimmer of hope of making a late-season push against long odds.

Nelson will bring a four-game goal streak, matching his career high, into Sunday night’s game against the Ducks at UBS Arena as the Islanders conclude a six-game homestand. They have won back-to-back games in regulation for the first time since Nov. 4-6 after dominating the Jets, 5-2, on Friday night and the Blue Jackets, 6-0, the night before.

The Islanders (23-24-8), who have not been at NHL .500 since Feb. 9 and sit 20 points behind the Capitals for the Eastern Conference’s final wild-card spot, are looking to match their season high with a three-game winning streak. They’ve only accomplished that twice, the last time being Jan. 17-21.

Nelson’s power-play goal, a one-timer from the right circle off Anthony Beauvillier’s circle-to-circle feed, opened the scoring at 6:38 of the first period on Friday and extended his point streak to a season-high five games (four goals, one assist).

He has eight goals over his last 12 games and is three goals shy of matching his career high of 26 with 27 games remaining. He has gone as many as four games without a point only once this season, from Nov. 7-16.

Coach Barry Trotz kept Nelson on the Islanders’ nominal top line on Friday along with Beauvillier and Anders Lee despite Mathew Barzal returning from a six-game absence because of a lower-body injury.

Trotz said recently Nelson’s goal consistency stems from an improvement in his shot release and more confidence in putting the puck on net.

"Your shot is something you’re always trying to work on and hone in a bit more," Nelson said. "The quicker you can get it off, the better. It’s something you work on every day, different release points. You watch other guys around the league. You watch guys like Mathew, how they can shoot the puck from, it seems, like anywhere on his body and in stride. Try to emulate that. Find your lanes and pick your spots and it feels good right now."

Though it’s hard to assign line designations under Trotz as he spreads his minutes among his veteran forwards fairly evenly, Nelson has essentially been the second-line center behind Barzal since Trotz took over in 2018. This season, he’s most frequently centered Beauvillier and Josh Bailey.

But it’s a near-certainty Trotz will keep Nelson in between Lee and Beauvillier for a third straight game with the Islanders coming off their highest two-game goal total (11) of the season. Lee, who notched his first career hat trick on Thursday, added another goal against the Jets and has six in his last three games.

Trotz had Barzal in between Kieffer Bellows and Zach Parise on a third line against the Jets while Jean-Gabriel Pageau remained in between Bailey and Kyle Palmieri.

"I liked our lines the way they were," Trotz said. "All three of them have a potential to be very dangerous. Leesy has come back and he’s played with Brock and Brock has stepped up. Brock has been as good as anybody on our hockey team. Pageau just keeps doing what he does. Barzy came back in the lineup and I liked Barzy with Zach. They seem to read off of each other pretty well and it’s just finding that other component. Is it Bellows? Is it Wahlly [Oliver Wahlstrom]?"

Trotz added he especially appreciated how Nelson stepped up with Barzal absent.

"Mat has been out and guys like Brock and Anders and Pageau have all stepped up, there’s a number of guys," Trotz said. "But Mathew is at center ice and Brock with more minutes and more responsibility, the same with Pager, they’ve done a really excellent job. As a coach, that’s what you want. You want guys to be able to step up."

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