The good news for the Islanders: Brock Nelson and Casey Cizikas were back in the lineup on Tuesday after Nelson left Friday’s game and Cizikas exited Thursday’s game with injuries.
The bad news: It’s still unclear when they’ll get Kyle Palmieri, Cal Clutterbuck, Adam Pelech, Simon Holmstrom or Semyon Varlamov back. Palmieri and Clutterbuck are skating on their own, coach Lane Lambert said Tuesday, but the others haven’t even gotten that far.
Oh, and Oliver Wahlstrom was added to the injured list just 24 seconds into his first shift of the Isles’ 5-1 win Tuesday, after Pierre-Olivier Joseph seemed to hit his head into the boards.
“Unfortunately it’s part of our game and I hope Wally’s back here soon,” captain Anders Lee said. “You’ve kinda seen us have to deal with that of late so unfortunately going a man down, [we’re] too accustomed to [it] midgame.”
The Islanders adjusted just fine on Tuesday, thrashing the Penguins in a complete effort, but the injuries continue to be concerning nonetheless. Lambert did not issue an update on Wahlstrom following the game.
All of the other injured players have been described as day-to-day by the Islanders, but that designation borders on meaningless given that Pelech has been out for nearly a month, last playing on Dec. 6 when he exited after slamming his head into the boards on a hit by Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo.
General manager Lou Lamoriello said last week that there are no long-term concerns, but did not give a timeframe he would define as long term. Lambert declined to do the same on Tuesday morning, while also refusing to say whether Varlamov — who suffered a lower-body injury against the Golden Knights on Dec. 17 — has gotten an MRI exam.
On Tuesday, the Islanders kept Aatu Räty as their fourth-line center alongside Matt Martin and Hudson Fasching, while playing Cizikas on Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s wing. Though the Islanders varied their lines a bit throughout, a result of playing with 11 forwards, Cizikas on the wing in particular turned out to be successful.
“I thought he was pretty good,” Lambert said. “We work on that as a group. Everyone works on … wall plays and things like that in practice. So it’s not completely foreign to him.”
As for Fasching, he picked up an assist on Mathew Barzal’s deflected goal 50 seconds into the second period and was plus-2 over 12:38.
“He’s contributing offensively, he’s playing his role, he’s going up and down,” Lambert said. “He’s a big guy who gets to the net. He’s doing what he needs to do.”
Ilya Sorokin stopped 20 of 21 shots for his second straight win in nets.
After going 0-for-3 on Tuesday, the Islanders are now scoreless in their last 25 attempts on the power play.
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