Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson, second from left, leaves the group...

Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson, second from left, leaves the group celebration after scoring as Ducks center Isac Lundestrom, left, looks away, during the first period of an NHL game in Anaheim, Calif., on Feb. 27. Credit: AP/Alex Gallardo

One of the issues for the Islanders this season has been a lack of offensive production from their defensemen.

But one reason for optimism coming off their five-game road trip and into this six-game homestand was more aggressive play from the Islanders’ blueliners and a correlated uptick in points.

The Islanders faced the Canucks on Thursday night at UBS Arena still in a very much uphill battle to reenter the playoff chase. They started play on Thursday 17 points behind the Capitals for the Eastern Conference’s final wild-card spot.

And though the Islanders played more consistent hockey on their Western swing — save for a clunker in Los Angeles — they still returned home with a 2-2-1 record on the trip. An inability to string wins together has hamstrung their season.

But the defense corps, now minus Zdeno Chara, who remained out on Thursday for a third straight game with an upper-body injury, contributed multi-point efforts in each of the five road games. That included a goal and an assist from Ryan Pulock, who missed 25 games from Nov. 16-Jan. 30 with a lower-body injury.

"To be honest with you, we haven’t changed a whole lot," coach Barry Trotz said. "It comes with a little bit of routine play. It comes with a little bit with players joining [the rush]. Pully is coming into the mix so maybe that allows Dobber [Noah Dobson] to feel like he can go up a little more."

There were five assists from defensemen in the trip-opening 6-3 win over the expansion Seattle Kraken on Feb. 22, with Chara, Dobson and Scott Mayfield all contributing primary helpers.

Adam Pelech scored a goal and Mayfield and Sebastian Aho added primary assists in a 4-3 shootout loss in San Jose on Feb. 24. Dobson had two primary assists and Aho added a secondary assist in a 5-2 loss to the Kings on Saturday. Dobson and Andy Greene, reinserted into the lineup with Chara injured, both scored goals while Aho had a secondary assist in a 4-0 win in Anaheim the next night.

The trip ended with Pulock scoring a goal and Greene adding a primary assist in Tuesday’s 5-3 loss in Colorado.

Aho, perhaps getting an extended showcase in advance of the NHL trade deadline on March 21, had his five-game assist streak snapped against the NHL-leading Avalanche. That matched Mathew Barzal — also absent for a third straight game on Thursday with a lower-body injury — for the Islanders’ longest assist streak this season.

But the Islanders thought Aho, driving to the crease, had scored the go-ahead goal in the third period before the apparent score was overturned via video review.

Aho’s non-goal — Trotz insisted Aho should have drawn a penalty as he was hauled down going to the net — was a good example of the aggressive play the Islanders have gotten of late from their defensemen.

Still, the Islanders entered Thursday’s game tied for 28th in the NHL in defense production with 90 points in 50 games. Only the Senators (87) and the Canadiens (73) had received fewer points from their defensemen.

The Avalanche, who got a goal and two assists from ex-Islanders’ puck-moving defenseman Devon Toews in Tuesday’s win, were leading the league this season with 170 points from their blueliners.

Dobson leads the Islanders’ defensemen with 10 goals and 17 assists, both career highs for the 12th overall pick in 2018. He reached double digits in goals with a second-period score against the Canucks Thursday night.

"Guys are feeling comfortable getting to the net or joining the play, which we always encourage," Trotz said. "I think the shots are getting through. They’ve got a little more of a shot mentality."

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