A player with a family legacy that is golden in hockey is now writing his own chapter, featuring big goals in clutch moments.
Perhaps this chapter includes a run at the Stanley Cup for Brock Nelson.
Nelson scored the second goal in Game 4 for the Islanders in what would become a 3-1 win over the Penguins. The Isles sweep of Pittsburgh is a poignant moment in the franchise’s rebirth under coach Barry Trotz. It was also a moment for the under-appreciated player to step forward as a star.
Coming into this series, Nelson had just three career playoff goals in 18 appearances. His score late in the first period of the series-clincher was his third goal and second game-winner of these playoffs, and perhaps a defining moment in the 27-year-old center’s career.
Brock, whose uncle Dave Christian won Olympic gold as part of the 1980 “Miracle” team that beat the Soviet Union, comes from a strong lineage in this sport. His grandfather and a great uncle also won Olympic gold medals, and another great uncle won a silver, skating for the United States over a half-century ago.
That bloodline has been on display in these playoffs with smart positioning and a keen hockey acumen from the Islanders center. Nelson had the understanding when Tom Kuhnhackl delivered a big check on Pittsburgh’s Marcus Pettersson to sit in the crease, waiting for the puck to pop out. A pass from Josh Bailey set up Nelson perfectly, who slotted home a goal that would give the Isles a 2-1 lead in the first period they would not relinquish.
“That was a hell of a pass by Bails.” Nelson said after the game. “I was just trying to drive to the net. He saw me somehow around a couple of guys.”
It was an important goal — as was the case in Game 3 — as the Isles went down early but responded quickly. This time, just 35 seconds into the game, Jake Guentzel went streaking down the ice virtually unopposed and slotted home a wrist shot for an early Pens’ lead. But the Islanders responded twice in the first period, answering back after their defensive breakdown at the game’s start.
Nelson’s effort and game-winning goal are characteristic of a team that has responded to adversity throughout this whole season. And now, the season is set to continue for a couple more weeks.