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Beauvillier bounces back after Bridgeport

Islanders forward has been revitalized after trip to American Hockey League

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / New York Islanders

Revitalize was the word last Sunday, while reboot was the word of the day on Saturday. Whichever Head Coach Doug Weight wants to use to describe Anthony Beauvillier's turnaround since returning from Bridgeport is appropriate. 

"Anthony has been a different person," Weight said after the Isles 7-2 win over the New York Rangers, where Beauvillier had three points. "Just his face, his confidence and just in hindsight, speaking with him this morning he said 'you were right, this was the greatest thing for me.'" 

Beauvillier only spent three games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, two after being loaned on New Year's Day and another during the bye week, but it's made a world of difference for the Islanders' 2015 first-rounder. He has four points (3G, 1A) in two games since returning and was a force on Saturday, scoring two goals and adding an assist in the blowout win over the Rangers. 

"I just feel more comfortable and want the puck a little bit more," Beauvillier said. "I know I can make plays and have success. It's all in the head I guess. It's just about wanting the puck, being confident and knowing you can win your battles and knowing you can make plays, it makes a huge difference on the ice." 

Video: NYI@NYR: Beauvillier whips in wrister for his second

The results are good, but that doesn't mean the process was easy. Beauvillier had seven points in 31 games and Weight wanted more from him, both on and off the scoresheet, especially after a solid rookie campaign in 2016-17, where he had 24 points in 66 games. 

"It's tough. It's not easy for me to hear or for them to say," Beauvillier said. 

But Beauvillier used it as motivation and answered the call immediately, scoring a pair of goals in a 3-2 OT loss to Rochester on Jan. 5, his second game with Bridgeport. Sound Tigers Head Coach Brent Thompson, whom Weight described as a tough critic, said Beauvillier was the best player on both teams in both games and he earned an emergency recall the next day. He had some spring in his step and scored in his Islanders return against the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. 

He was loaned back to Bridgeport after the win over New Jersey, but only because the Islanders were heading into the bye.

Video: NJD@NYI: Beauvillier nets Barzal's terrific feed

"We know what kind of character he is, that's why he made the team at 18 years old," Weight said Saturday. "We trusted that he has compete, speed, and a real willingness and leadership type about him at a young age. We have to keep working with him, but obviously he was one of the better players on the ice tonight. He was in command of his game, confident and it was nice to see."

Beauvillier has played the past two games with Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle, an offensive opportunity not previously available with the top-six cemented shut. Beauvillier has made the most of the opportunity that's presented itself with Andrew Ladd being out. 

"He's bringing his effort every night, that's the biggest thing," said Barzal, who had a five-point day on Saturday. "He's playing exactly how he's supposed to play, winning battles, burying his chances which is great and doing a great job playing 200 feet. He's been really easy to adjustment there with Ladd being out."

Video: NYI@NYR: Beauvillier snaps one in off the post

Weight said it generally takes players longer trips to the AHL to turn things around, but he's happy with Beauvillier's quick reboot. So is Beauvillier. 

"It happened to Bails [Josh Bailey] and a lot of Hall of Famers played in the American League as well," Beauvillier said. "It's helped me a lot just finding my game a little bit more, how to have success. No one wants to hear that, but it was good for me to go down there."

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