The Islanders returned to New York for a quick practice on Sunday morning after they were tested through their first multi-game road trip of the season. The Isles trip began with a 3-1 win over Winnipeg and ended with a 3-2 OT win at Columbus to also extend their winning streak to four games. Through their first eight games of the season, the Isles picked up 10 points and a 5-3-0 record.
"We're finding ways to win," Isles captain Anders Lee said. "Our offense, we're figuring it out. We don't want to have to rely on pulling one out of the hat every night, but we've done a good job of sticking to our game and putting together these last four games."
While the Isles are battling injuries; Jordan Eberle (undisclosed), Casey Cizikas (lower body), Leo Komarov (illness), the group is utilizing their 'Next Man Up' mentality and embracing the adversity by concentrating their focus onto what they can control.
Tom Kuhnhackl has stepped in and filled Eberle's void on the Isles top line alongside Mathew Barzal and Lee. Oliver Wahlstrom has excelled in his first three career NHL games after being recalled from Bridgeport to play on the right side of Derick Brassard and Josh Bailey. Cole Bardreau made his NHL debut after he was called up from Bridgeport on an emergency basis as Komarov felt ill before Saturday night's game against Columbus.
Video: Barry Trotz: Oct. 20, 2019
"You bent, but you didn't break," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "You look at the chances that we got [against Columbus], they were quick hitters. Where Columbus got there's from extended time and extended time in the zone. We've just got to close a little quicker and clean up a few things."
The Isles don't play their next game until Thursday, Oct. 24 as they host Arizona and open up their second, back-to-back set this season before traveling to play Ottawa on Oct. 25. With the additional time prior to Thursday's game, the Isles are taking advantage of the rest while also trying to maintain their game-shape.
"It's weird [to have a little break]," Anthony Beauvillier said. "You're used to playing every second day almost. It's going to be tough practices and will feel a little bit like training camp."
Tom Kuhnhackl and Leo Komarov did not skate at practice on Sunday. Trotz confirmed that Kuhnhackl took a maintenance day and that Komarov is day-to-day with illness.
Andrew Ladd was a full participant in practice and traded the orange non-contact sweater for a regular white one. Ladd is still listed on IR and has been recovering from a torn ACL. The 33-year-old winger suffered the season-ending injury just before the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs and was announced to be sidelined on March 26. Ladd's projected timeline to return is in November.
Trotz noted that Cizikas is "closer" than Eberle to potentially return to the lineup against Arizona or Ottawa. Both players skated on their own prior to the Islanders practice.
"Casey is probably closer," Trotz explained. "They're not with the group yet. Right now, they're probably doubtful [to play Thursday or Friday], but we'll see where they are."