Shorthanded Islanders finally hope to end skidding against Penguins

The New York Islanders are in the midst of one of the most challenging season openings imaginable. But coach Barry Trotz isn’t asking anyone — least of all on the Islanders — for sympathy.

The Islanders will try to break their longest losing streak in more than a decade on Friday night, when they complete the first homestand at UBS Arena by hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins in Elmont, NY.

Both teams were off Thanksgiving after playing at home on Wednesday, when the Islanders lost 4-1 to the New York Rangers and the Penguins took their fourth straight win by beating the Vancouver Canucks 4-1.

The loss was the seventh straight defeat for the Islanders, who came in this season with Stanley Cup-or-bust expectations after falling to eventual champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the semifinals each of the last two years in the past two years. of the NHL.

But the Islanders kicked off the season with a 13-game road trip — the second-longest in NHL history — as the final touches were put on the UBS Arena. They were 5-4-2 on the trip before it ended with consecutive losses to the Lightning and Florida Panthers, a period when a COVID-19 outbreak began in the New York locker room.

None of the seven players on the COVID-19 list will be allowed to return. In addition, top scorer Brock Nelson (lower body) and top defender Ryan Pulock (lower body) have been out for several weeks, while another top six defender, Noah Dobson, missed Wednesday’s game and has been dealing with a lower body injury from day to day. The Islanders’ lone goal on Wednesday was scored by Andy Andreoff, who had not scored in the NHL since February 19, 2018.

The Islanders, whose loss streak is the franchise’s longest since the 2010-11 team lost eight consecutive rules in the regulations from October 23 to November 10, 2010, have just 12 points and are already 10 points away from the final wildcard of the game. Eastern Conference venue. But Trotz maintained a businesslike, businesslike approach Wednesday night.

“We have to find a way to win a match with a less than ideal situation,” said Trotz. “Nobody will feel sorry for us. I hope we don’t feel sorry for ourselves – if we do it’s disappointing, but I don’t see that in our group.”

The Penguins’ power surge could provide some comfort to the islanders. Pittsburgh has struggled with a spate of injuries and a COVID-19 outbreak — at least eight players have tested positive since training camp began, including Hall of Fame-bound center Sidney Crosby, who missed the first six games to recover from wrist surgery offseason before being diagnosed with COVID-19 in early November — and not once consecutive wins from a 5-6-4 start.

But the Penguins are approaching good health — star center Evgeni Malkin has yet to play after an offseason knee surgery — and have outdone the opposition 15-2 on their winning streak, a period in which they trailed just once. Pittsburgh fell 1-0 behind the Winnipeg Jets in its first period on Monday before scoring its final three goals.

After neither team scored in the first period on Wednesday, the Penguins scored three goals in less than 15 minutes and were never seriously threatened by the Canucks.

“I think we’re building,” said Penguins center Zach Aston-Reese, who scored the last goal of the second period on Wednesday. “That third period (Monday) we were good from the first team. We were able to build on it tonight.”

–Field level media

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