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Islanders host Blackhawks in Brooklyn debut

by Brian Compton

BLACKHAWKS (0-1-0) at ISLANDERS (0-0-0)


NEW YORK -- Three years after they announced they were leaving Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the New York Islanders are set to play their first regular-season game at Barclays Center.

"It's starting to feel real," Islanders forward Matt Martin said hours before the season opener Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks (7:30 p.m. ET, NHLN, CSN-CH, MSG+). "I think once we get out there tonight, it will be home now. Obviously, we haven't played a regular-season game here yet, so there's some unknowns about what it's going to be like. But I think it's going to be a great experience and we're just looking for a great crowd with a lot of energy. Hopefully we get the win."

The Islanders will have to find a way to win without their starting goaltender; Jaroslav Halak is day-to-day because of an upper-body injury. Thomas Greiss, who signed a two-year contract with New York on July 1, gets the opening-night start. He was 9-6-3 with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage in 20 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins last season.

"You always see what's going on and you always prepare anyway no matter what happens," Greiss said. "It doesn't really affect me too much. You've always got to be ready and be sharp."

Chicago will play its second game of the season after a 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers at United Center on Wednesday. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who played 803 NHL games from 1978-1991, admitted it will be strange to play a road game against the Islanders in a building other than Nassau Coliseum.

"Definitely different," Quenneville said. "The building is a pretty sharp building. Good to get out there and get a feel of the boards, all new. Feels good. I'm sure it will be exciting for both teams. But it'll be fun to break in a new building for sure."

Blackhawks forward Viktor Tikhonov will play his first NHL game since the 2008-09 season, when he played 61 games for the Arizona Coyotes. Tikhonov, who will replace Kyle Baun, spent the past six seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League.

"It feels like the first time again," Tikhonov said. "Obviously it wasn't too long ago, but still being away for a few years, you want to make a good impression. I'm just excited to see what happens here."

Chicago defenseman Viktor Svedberg is making his NHL debut. The 6-foot-8 defenseman, who spent the past two seasons with Rockford in the American Hockey League, replaces David Rundblad.

Here are the projected lineups:


Teuvo Teravainen - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Artemi Panarin - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell - Andrew Shaw - Viktor Tikhonov

Andrew Desjardins - Marcus Kruger - Ryan Garbutt

Duncan Keith - Niklas Hjalmarsson

Trevor Daley - Brent Seabrook

Trevor van Riemsdyk - Viktor Svedberg

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Scratched: Kyle Baun, David Rundblad, Ville Pokka

Injured: Michal Rozsival (ankle)


Anders Lee - John Tavares - Ryan Strome

Josh Bailey - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo

Brock Nelson - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolay Kulemin

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk

Calvin de Haan - Travis Hamonic

Brian Strait - Marek Zidlicky

Thomas Greiss

Jean-Francois Berube

Scratched: Ryan Pulock, Steve Bernier

Injured: Jaroslav Halak (upper body), Thomas Hickey (upper body)

Status report: Quenneville said his two lineup changes aren't a reflection of how Baun and Rundblad performed Wednesday. "I thought [Baun's] game was alright," the coach said. "We want to get everybody in here right off the bat, give everybody an opportunity. We don't mind changing if we don't like the outcome or the way things are going." … Greiss and defenseman Marek Zidlicky are the only two players in the Islanders lineup who didn't play for New York last season. Zidlicky, 38, signed a one-year contract on Sept. 18.

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