Brock Nelson enjoyed a breakout year last season when he followed a career-high 37 goals by scoring 36 times and producing a career-best 75 points to help the New York Islanders reach the playoffs.
Nelson started the new campaign strong, recording a multi-point game in the season opener, and he will attempt to help the Islanders win their second straight contest on Tuesday night when they host the Arizona Coyotes in Elmont, N.Y.
The Islanders are seeking their first 2-0-0 start since opening the 2014-15 season with a four-game winning streak. They began this season by earning a 3-2 victory in their home opener, beating the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.
Nelson scored New York’s first goal of the season 5:57 into the contest and then collected the primary assist on Kyle Palmieri’s tally late in the opening period. Casey Cizikas scored on a redirection of Adam Pelech’s shot in the third after the Islanders squandered a two-goal lead.
Nelson started the season on a line with Pierre Engvall and Palmieri, and that trio combined for four points and eight of New York’s 29 shots on goal. It was a game that seemed to mirror many from last season, when the Islanders won 15 games decided by one goal.
“We have those two lines that are able to generate, not that the other lines aren’t as well,” Islanders coach Lane Lambert said. “I thought (Nelson) was skating tonight. I thought Engvall was skating. The goals are created by Kyle Palmieri, he’s in front of the net.”
On Tuesday, the Islanders could be without defenseman Scott Mayfield, who injured his ankle on Saturday. Mayfield did not practice Monday and if he sits, Samuel Bolduc will make his season debut.
Arizona heads into the third game of a four-game road trip after splitting a pair of meetings with the Devils and Rangers.
After earning a 4-3 win in New Jersey by scoring twice in a shootout on Friday, the Coyotes never led and took a 2-1 loss to the Rangers on Monday that left them feeling somewhat frustrated about the outcome.
Clayton Keller scored on a power play five minutes into the second, but the Coyotes could not score on a five-on-three later in the period. Arizona then gave up the tiebreaking goal on an errant clearing attempt during a New York power play and could not convert when Jason Zucker had a penalty shot late in the third.
“Just the character we’ve shown, it’s Game 2 of the season on this road trip,” Arizona defenseman Sean Durzi said. “I think we have a lot to be proud of and now you take this game and move on, but we’re disappointed we didn’t get it done.”
Goaltender Connor Ingram made 26 saves in his season debut and Karel Vejmelka is expected to make his second start on Tuesday.
The Islanders are 6-3-1 in the past 10 meetings with the Coyotes, who swept the season series in 2022-23. Arizona earned a 2-0 win in New York on Nov. 10, 2022, and Keller scored twice in its 5-4 home win on Dec. 16, 2022.