His ice time had steadily decreased as he sank to the fourth line and was taken off the power play, and Anthony Beauvillier, after a solid sophomore season, seemed to be in danger of losing his roster spot with the Islanders.
But on Thursday night, the left wing — who had only one goal and one point in his first 16 games this season — made the most of an opportunity created by injuries. He netted his first career hat trick and added an assist as the Islanders continued their recent mastery of the Rangers with a 7-5 win at Barclays Center.
“I’m just trying to have fun and compete, but a little relief there,” said Beauvillier, 21, adding that lack of production is “always tough, mentally.”
“Beating the Rangers at home, it’s such a big rivalry,” he said. “I was pretty pumped for the game, and everyone was.”
“He’s been hard on himself and wondering what’s going on in terms of when is he ever going to score,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz added. “He fixed the battle in his game. He was hungry for pucks and he was skating and he got rewarded for it.”
Beauvillier had instant chemistry with third-line center Valtteri Filppula, who had three assists, and Leo Komarov, who made it 6-3 at 9:56 of the third period. Cal Clutterbuck’s empty-netter with 20.3 seconds remaining — his second goal in two games after he endured a 51-game goal-less streak — secured the victory.
The Islanders (10-6-2), off to a franchise-record 7-0-0 to start the season against Metropolitan Division opponents, have won all seven of their games against the Rangers (9-8-2) in Brooklyn and are on a 12-1-0 streak against them overall.
“We’ve been playing well at home against the Rangers, that’s just how it is, and hopefully we keep it going,” said captain Anders Lee, who made it 5-3 with a power-play goal at 14:04 of the second period. The Islanders went 2-for-5 with the man advantage after going 1-for-18 in the previous four games.
Thomas Greiss made 36 saves after stopping 22 shots in Tuesday’s 5-2 win over the Canucks.
Earlier in the day, the Islanders placed left wings Andrew Ladd (lower body) and Matt Martin (upper body) and center Casey Cizikas (lower body) on injured reserve. That opened ice time and a spot back on the power play for Beauvillier, who had logged a season-low 7:42 on Tuesday and 8:39 in Saturday’s 4-2 loss at Florida.
“It’s tough losing those guys,” Beauvillier said. “They’re veteran guys who mean a lot to this team and have an impact in this room. We’ve got to keep it together even though they’re not there.”
Beauvillier, who has the sixth-most goals on the team after compiling 21 goals and 15 assists in 71 games last season as Mathew Barzal’s linemate, completed his hat trick at 5:13 of the second period by tipping defenseman Johnny Boychuk’s blast from the right boards for a power-play goal and a 4-3 lead.
Beauvillier had given the Islanders a 3-2 lead at 2:24 of the second period. Filppula, from the Islanders’ blue line, fed Beauvillier at the Rangers’ blue line for a breakaway.
The Islanders responded quickly in the first period after spotting the Rangers a two-goal lead. Beauvillier tipped defenseman Thomas Hickey’s point shot to bring the Islanders within 2-1 at 9:35 and Brock Nelson, with his team-high ninth goal of the season, tipped defenseman Nick Leddy’s point shot to tie the score at 2 at 10:38.
Filppula, 34, had the secondary assist on Beauvillier’s first goal to reach the 300-assist milestone for his career.