Though the Islanders lost Tuesday night, fans got to see a new Islander do what he does best for the first time.
Cal Clutterbuck came over in a draft-day trade from the Wild, signed a four-year, $11 million extension and then suffered a deep skate cut to his right thigh that stopped his energetic, physical game in its tracks.
After struggling through his first two games in Chicago and Nashville, the 25-year-old wing was at his best on Tuesday, throwing big, clean hits, getting the opposition riled up and drawing a couple penalties in the process.
"I had my legs under me, which allowed me to get a good feel for the game," said Clutterbuck, who delivered a game-high eight hits.
Clutterbuck ended up skating with Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas -- Colin McDonald missed the game with a minor hip injury and Eric Boulton played just 3:59, leaving that right-wing spot open. With Clutterbuck and Martin forming a Batman sound-effects tandem, the Coliseum crowd got into the game with each hit.
"You can see it makes the other team think twice about going to get the puck," said Clutterbuck, who led the NHL in the very unofficial hits category from 2008-2011. Martin led the league the past two seasons. "It definitely gets the building going a little bit and hopefully the guys can feed off that generated energy."
McDonald returned to practice Wednesday in advance of tonight's meeting with the Oilers, so Clutterbuck returned to his regular spot with Matt Moulson and Peter Regin. The Isles have gotten only two goals from their bottom two forward lines, including Martin's on Tuesday, so that may be the next step for Clutterbuck, who had 15 goals two seasons ago for the Wild.
"When you're out for that period of time [during training camp], with the injury he had, it takes some time to get back," coach Jack Capuano said. "We knew what we were getting when we traded for Cal and everyone got a little taste of that."