New York Islanders left wing Brock Nelson reacts after he...

New York Islanders left wing Brock Nelson reacts after he scores an empty-net goal for a hat trick against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the third period of an NHL hockey game at Barclays Center on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Brock Nelson said he doesn’t think playing center is much different from playing wing, though perhaps his hat trick on Tuesday night in his first game at center all season tells a different story.

“To me, he’s a center,” Jack Capuano said yesterday morning as the coach decided to keep Nelson at center between Anders Lee and Josh Bailey for a second straight game. “You’ve got a guy 6-foot-3, it’s tough to take him out of the middle. But we had Grabovski coming off some injuries last season and we wanted to see him there to start the year.”

Capuano shifted Grabovski to the wing on Tuesday night, though it wasn’t exactly a demotion. Grabovski was on the top line with John Tavares and Ryan Strome, where he played again Thursday night.

“It’s a chance to play more, so it really doesn’t matter where you play,” Grabovski said. “Johnny’s more an offense guy, so sometimes in the D zone, I can be in the middle and help out there. The more we play together, we’ll get better and better.”

Pelech cut, returns

Adam Pelech had a scary moment in the first period Thursday night when Derek Stepan’s skate struck his face as he dived to break up a scoring chance. Pelech missed a few minutes but returned to start the second period with a handful of stitches and an angry gash on his cheek.

Pelech again was paired with Brian Strait on defense, leaving Scott Mayfield as a healthy scratch for a second straight game. Mayfield might return to Bridgeport in time for the Sound Tigers’ game on Friday night in Portland, Maine, after sitting out the last two with the Isles.

The Islanders don’t play again until Sunday, when the Canucks come to Barclays Center.

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