After three days off for Christmas, the New York Islanders kick off their post-holiday schedule on Friday night when they take on the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center (8:30 p.m., MSG+2).
While the Isles are second in the Metropolitan Division at 23-9-3, they went into the break on a 1-2-1 stretch and are looking to start off on the right note. Most recently, the Islanders are coming off of a 3-2 loss to Columbus on Dec. 23 at NYCB Live. Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal scored for the Isles while Thomas Greiss made 32 saves.
The Blackhawks are coming off of a pre-Christmas loss as they fell 7-1 to New Jersey on Dec. 23. Zack Smith scored Chicago's sole goal before the Blackhawks relinquished seven-straight tallies. Former Islander netminder Robin Lehner made 21 saves on 24 shots and played 29:20 before he was relieved by Corey Crawford. Crawford 16 saves and played 30:40.
- Thomas Greiss was the first goalie off the ice for morning skate, suggesting that he'll start against Chicago. Greiss is 11-6-0, a 2.43 goals against average and a .924 save percentage. If Greiss starts, it'll mark the first time this season he'd made consecutive starts.
- Scott Mayfield took morning skate and is projected to re-join the lineup after missing Monday's game with an illness.
- Former Islander Robin Lehner will start in goal for the Blackhawks on Friday. Lehner spoke highly of his one season with the Islanders, specifically of the team camaraderie, his personal turnaround after battling addiction and mental health issues and his relationship with the fans.
"There are a lot of really good guys in that locker room and obviously a lot of good players," Lehner said. "One of the tightest groups I've played in so it was a fun year. Obviously the guys in the organization and the coaches made it a really easy year for me. It was a good year. It's been exciting starting a new year here and just trying to get two points tonight."
The Islanders expressed their support for their former goalie as well, after the team's morning skate.
"He came in last year and was a total sparkplug for our group," Anders Lee said. "Just the way he saw the game and talked to the young guys and his perspective as a goaltender was important for us. Just as a teammate and a person, Robin is a great guy, a great friend, so it was fun to catch up a bit on Twitter and wished each other a Merry Christmas and all that stuff. Like I said, I told him, we'd meet him in the crease."
- Lee scored his 11th goal of the season and has markers in back-to-back games. Lee has points in three-straight games with four points (2G, 2A) during that span. The Isles captain has 22 points through 35 games this season.
- Barzal had a two-point (1G, 1A) night against the Blue Jackets where he potted his 16th goal of the season and extended his goal streak to three-straight games. The 22-year-old center leads the team in goals (16), assists (16) and points (32) through 35 games this season.
- Jordan Eberle assisted on both of the Islanders goals. The winger has points in six of his last seven games with nine points (1G, 8A) during that span. Through 25 games this season, Eberle has 17 points (3G, 14A).
- Johnny Boychuk assisted on Barzal's goal. The defenseman has three points (1G, 2A) in two of his last three games.
- Greiss made his 17th start of the season. The German netminder has a record of 11-6-0, a 2.43 goals against average and a .924 save percentage.
- On Monday, Andrew Ladd appeared in his first NHL game since March 24th and led the team with five hits. The winger logged 9:53 time on ice. Update: Ladd was returned to Bridgeport on Friday morning.
- Scott Mayfield missed Monday's game due to illness. Noah Dobson took Mayfield's spot in the lineup. The rookie defenseman logged 12:48 time on ice and had one shot on goal.
- Against Columbus, the Isles suffered their first one-goal loss in regulation since Opening Night (12-2-3). The Isles are 7-6-2 in their last 15 games.
- The Isles have allowed the fewest goals in the NHL this season with only 90 goals against through 35 games.
- The Blackhawks are ranked seventh in the Central division with 36 points and a record of 15-17-6.
- Patrick Kane leads the Blackhawks in scoring (20), assists (points (46). Kane is ranked sixth in the NHL for points.
- Lehner will see his former team for the first time on Friday night. Lehner was 25-13-5 last season for the Islanders with a 2.13 GAA, a .930SV% and six shutouts, en route to being nominated for the Vezina Trophy. Lehner endeared himself to Isles fans as a mental health advocate after publicly sharing his story of addition and mental health issues. The 28-year-old netminder has a record of 9-6-4, a 2.86 GAA and a .924 SV% in his first season with the Blackhawks.
- Lehner has split the pipes with Crawford this season. Crawford has made 19 starts, has a record 6-11-2, a 3.20 GAA, and a .905 SV%.
- The Blackhawks are suffering from the injury bug as they announced three major updates on Thursday. Brandon Saad will be out three weeks with an ankle injury defenseman - and former Islander - Calvin de Haan will undergo shoulder surgery and will be out for the remainder of the 2019-20 season. Defenseman Brent Seabrook will also undergo shoulder surgery and will be out for the remainder of the 2019-20 season. Seabrook is also scheduled to have surgery in early January (right hip) and in early February (left hip). Chicago placed de Haan and Seabrook on Long Term Injured Reserve retroactive Dec. 26.
- Rookie winger Dominik Kubalik is ranked second in the NHL among rookies with his 10 goals and ranked eighth in the NHL among rookies for his 16 points.
ISLES VS. BLACKHAWKS:
The two teams split a pair of OT/shootout contests last season. The Islanders claimed a 3-2 overtime the first meeting over the Blackhawks on Jan. 3 at NYCB Live. Mathew Barzal scored twice in regulation while Devon Toews scored the OT winner. Chicago claimed the second meeting of last season 3-2 in a shootout on Jan. 22 at the United Center. Barzal and former Islander Valtteri Filppula scored in regulation.