There are two things motivating the New York Islanders heading into Friday's tilt with the Carolina Hurricanes.
The first is righting the ship after a 5-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, an uncharacteristic defeat that incurred some sharp criticism from Head Coach Barry Trotz. After going 1-2-0 in a three-game homestand, that's priority number one.
"We need to get back to what made us successful and play to our identity and play to who we really are," captain Anders Lee said. "I don't think any of us are very pleased with how we showed up last game and we have to make sure that we right the ship tomorrow night."
The second is the opponent. Friday marks the first meeting between the teams since the Hurricanes swept the Islanders in the second round of the playoffs last fall. The Isles may be focused on the present, but they haven't forgotten about what transpired last spring.
"No matter what happens it's the previous season, you're never going to forget that, you're never really over it and the fact of the matter is this is a huge game for us," Lee said. "The fact that it's Carolina too adds a little more to it. It should be no problem getting up for this one."
MORNING SKATE UPDATES:
- Thomas Greiss was the first goalie off the ice for the Islanders at morning skate. Greiss is 8-4-1 in his career against the Hurricanes, and 6-1-0 in his last seven starts against the Canes.
- Nick Leddy and Casey Cizikas are both game-time decisions. Leddy, who is dealing with an unspecified nagging issue, participated in the team's morning skate, but stayed on for extra work, while Cizikas did not skate. Both took maintenance days on Thursday.
- Tom Kuhnhackl will make his season debut on Friday. He practiced on a line with Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson on Thursday and skated with them again on Friday.
- Petr Mrazek is expected to start in goal for the Hurricanes, while Julien Gauthier will make his NHL debut.
- The Islanders are looking to rebound after a 5-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night. Noah Dobson's NHL debut was the Islanders highlight of the night, but a four-goal game by James Neal powered the Oilers win. The home loss was the Isles first in 13 games (10-1-2) to Edmonton.
- The Islanders return to Raleigh for the first time since being swept by the Hurricanes in the second round of the 2019 playoffs. The main focus will be on the present, but back in the eye of the storm will stir some emotions in an Islander team that is looking to exact a little revenge. They hope those feelings help - and don't hurt - them at PNC Arena.
"You channel your emotions the right way and focus on the game and do your thing," Lee said. "You can't control what happened, it's over, but we can control how we do, how we show up, how hard we play and the way the game goes, responding in the game and all those things we talk about all the time and not letting your emotions take you away from what you need to be doing."
- Tom Kuhnhackl will make his season debut on Friday night, Trotz announced on Thursday. Kuhnhackl sat out the first three games of the season as a healthy scratch. He practiced with Brock Nelson and Michael Dal Colle at Thursday's practice, but Trotz did not commit to Kuhnhackl's place in the lineup.
"Tommy will be in, not necessarily on that line," Trotz said. "Last game I didn't think we played very well at all. We've got too many good players and I have a lot of confidence in the guys who aren't playing, so I'm going to try and filter some of those guys in."
- Casey Cizikas and Nick Leddy both took a maintenance day on Thursday, but are expected to play on Friday. Cizikas has taken several maintenance days since an awkward hit in the Isles preseason finale against the Rangers. Leddy fell awkwardly into the boards on Tuesday night, but stayed in the game.
- Anthony Beauvillier leads the Islanders in goals (two) and points (four). Beauvillier is riding a three-game point streak.
- Friday kicks off the start of back-to-back games for the Islanders, who are back in action on Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum against Florida.
- The Hurricanes are 4-0-0 to start the season, leading the NHL with eight points. The 4-0-0 start matches the franchise's best (1995-96). Carolina is averaging 4.00 goals-per-game.
- The Canes have undergone some changes since the last time these teams met. Justin Williams is taking a break from the game, Justin Faulk was traded to St. Louis, Calvin de Haan was traded to Chicago, while Michael Ferland signed with the Vancouver Canucks.
Defensemen Jake Gardiner and Joel Edmundson, forwards Ryan Dzingel and Erik Haula as well as goalie James Reimer are among the Canes offseason acquisitions.
- Jordan Martinook will be out six-to-eight weeks, as he undergoes surgery on Friday to repair a core muscle injury. Martinook had 25 points (15G, 10A) for the Hurricanes last season.
- With Martinook out, Julien Gauthier is expected to make his NHL debut on Friday. Gauthier, the Hurricanes 2016 first-round pick (21st overall), spent the past two seasons playing for the Charlotte Checkers in the AHL and had two goals in two games for the Checkers prior to his recall.
- Defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk will also miss Friday's game as he continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery - the result of a Cal Clutterbuck hit during Game 2 of the Isles-Canes series.
- Andrei Svechnikov leads the Hurricanes with six points (all assists).