NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Oliver Wahlstrom is the Islanders’ leading goal scorer after snapping a three-game stretch without a point. He’s also the team’s youngest player so much about life in the NHL for him is still a learning experience.
That includes this 13-game road trip to start the season, which continued with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday afternoon in which Wahlstrom scored his fourth goal.
Spending five days back in New York after the trip began with 11 straight nights in hotels across six cities before a red-eye team charter flight back from Las Vegas refreshed Wahlstrom.
"For me, it’s just take it a day at a time," said the 21-year-old Wahlstrom, five months younger than defenseman Noah Dobson. "I’m still learning. I haven’t been on road trips like this.
"I think I got 12 hours sleep all three days there," Wahlstrom said of the Islanders not practicing Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. "It was good rest. I’m learning those things right now. How to take care of my body."
Wahlstrom logged 11:59 with four shots on Saturday, including 2:42 of power-play time. He gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead at 12:04 of the second period as he set up in his usual spot in the left circle and converted Brock Nelson’s feed with a rising laser past Juuse Saros.
Two of Wahlstrom’s goals this season have come on the power play and six of his 16 career goals in 60 regular-season games have been on the man advantage.
"It starts with Nellie taking the puck over and creating all that space and I just tried to put myself in the best possible spot to get my shot off," Wahlstrom said. "This goalie is good but he’s a little small, too, so we had to try to work to get pucks above him."
Wahlstrom earned a regular role on Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s right wing along with Zach Parise despite a sluggish training camp. This came after he started the Islanders’ playoff run to the NHL semifinals last season in the rotation with a goal and two assists in five games before being sidelined by an injury.
"Confidence is the fuel for any player," coach Barry Trotz said. "I think he has good confidence. I think he’s playing with tremendous linemates in Pageau and Parise for a young guy. He’s dangerous. He’s got a skill set that makes him a threat when the puck is on his stick."