If you heard a collective sigh of relief on Thursday morning, that was all of Long Island when NY Islanders forward Brock Nelson stepped on the ice for morning skate. On Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Nelson took a questionable hit from Maple Leafs forward, Noel Acciari, one that held him out for the remaining 40-plus minutes of the game. Luckily for the Islanders, they fed off the hit and the outstanding play from Ilya Sorokin in net, routing Toronto to a 7-2 loss.
Acciari's hit wasn't questionable enough for the NHL's Department of Player Safety to fine or suspend the Maple Leaf forward as Wednesday came and went and Accia escaped unscathed. Nelson was playing the puck along the boards below the Islanders' goal line as the Isles attempted to clear the puck from their own end. When the puck reached Nelson's feet, Acciari hit Nelson with a body check along the boards that seemed like a clear boarding call as Nelson's No.29 was exposed.
In the third period as the Islanders were winning 6-2, Matt Martin dropped the gloves with Acciari in what seemed like the veteran forward coming to the defense of the Islanders leading goal scorer.
On Thursday, Nelson stepped back on the ice for morning skate and appeared in a regular practice uniform indicating he is not nursing an injury. Islanders captain Anders Lee may have known a little more than us and head coach Lane Lambert following Tuesday's game as he explained he didn't like the hit, but he knew Nelson would be OK.
“He got roughed up a little bit, but I know he’ll be fine; he’ll be good to go,” Lee explained. “We have a few days here for him to get back.”
The Islanders had a complete day off on Wednesday, a good day for Nelson to rest and recover, and on Thursday they just have a morning skate. The Islanders will head to Columbus on Friday and take on the Blue Jackets and will play host to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.
Following practice, Nelson explained he got six stitches above his right eye and by the time he was stitched up, it didn't make sense for him to come back into Tuesday's game. For a team that will likely battle to remain in playoff position until the last game of the regular season, Nelson avoiding an injury is huge news for the team.