Tampa, Fla. -- Ryan Strome admittedly needed some time to get over his demotion back on Nov. 6 and he was in a funk still through his first few games with Bridgeport.
But he found some comfort and confidence not just from the Sound Tigers coaches, but also from his Islanders teammates -- John Tavares and several other Isles leaders texted Strome to keep him mindful of what he'd be coming back to and how much the team needed the 22-year-old despite his slow start.
"I didn't really expect any of them to reach out and when they did, that meant the world to me," Strome said upon his return Friday, when he scored a key goal to start the Islanders rally in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Panthers. "(That was) one of the biggest motivators for me.''
The things Strome needed to work on during his three weeks in Bridgeport weren't much to do with his physical skills. Complacency had set in a bit to his game during the first 12 games of the Islanders season -- especially in the loss to the Canadiens on Nov. 5, the day before Strome's demotion, he was making too many soft plays and simply not working hard enough for a player still on his entry-level deal.
Strome didn't have time for a practice with the Sound Tigers, playing two games in two days right after the whirlwind of being demoted. He didn't even get his usual No. 18, forced to wear No. 81 with Justin Florek keeping No. 18 even after Strome went down. That's fairly unusual -- even though Florek is older, Strome has more games in the NHL and with the Sound Tigers.
But for those fans seeing the name Nino Niederreiter flashing like a warning sign over this Strome saga -- Niederreiter wasn't called up from Bridgeport for the lockout-shortened 2013 season, demanded a trade and was dealt that June -- not to worry.
"The easy thing to do would be to sulk and complain, and I never want to be that person,'' Strome said. "I'm happy the way I worked, I got rewarded now and I've got another opportunity.''
Leddy back on track?
Jack Capuano said the past two weeks have seen "the Nick Leddy from last season.'' If that's true, there's still one thing missing from Leddy's game: Points.
He entered yesterday's game against the Lightning here with just one point in his last 12 games and still has not scored a goal this season.
Compare that to 2014-15, when Leddy had five goals and five assists through 24 games.
"Obviously you'd love to get that first one to get going,'' Leddy said. "I feel like I've been doing a lot of good things, getting up in the play a bit more of late and it'll come.''
Despite the lack of points, Leddy has been using his terrific skating skills to get the puck up the ice and has been shooting it more. He had just nine shots on goal through 13 games; he's had that many in the three games entering Saturday, including five of the Isles' 25 shots on net Friday.
"We obviously need offense from our back end and he's a big part of that,'' Capuano said.
Special teams woes
The Islanders penalty kill has been slipping of late, but it still entered Saturday at 81.9 percent efficiency, 10th in the NHL -- the Islanders last had a top-10 PK in 2003-04, when they finished fifth in the league.
The power play, however, has been in a Grade A funk. And, as Capuano pointed out after Friday's lone power play chance came with 1:25 left in regulation and obviously did not produce a winning goal, the power-play misses have been timely.
The 2-for-36 skid over the last 12 games has included seven power play chances in tie games. The Islanders converted one of those, their opening chance against the Coyotes on Nov. 16.
They've also gone 0-for-9 on power play chances when trailing by a goal during this skid.