BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Anders Lee was last in an Islanders’ uniform on March 11, when he suffered a season-ending torn right anterior cruciate ligament. It had been a bit longer for Zdeno Chara, who last dressed for the organization on April 7, 2001.
The captain and the future Hall of Fame defenseman, both crucial cogs to the Islanders’ ultimate success this season, made their preseason debuts in a 3-0 win over the Flyers on Tuesday night at Webster Bank Arena.
"It felt good to be out there," said Lee, who had a first-period goal and two shots in 16:12 of ice time. "I think it was kind of a sloppy game. I wasn’t really nervous about the knee, I know it’s in a good place. We’ve come a long way."
Chara, 44, who signed a one-year deal after one season with the Capitals and 14 seasons with one Stanley Cup as the Bruins captain, continued his training camp pairing with third-year pro Noah Dobson as he logged 18:57 while tying for a team-high with four shots.
"There’s always room to improve," Chara said. "There are areas where I could move the puck, probably, a little bit quicker and make better decisions. But that’s just the way it is. It’s the first game after a while."
Lee was back on Mathew Barzal’s left wing along with Kyle Palmieri as coach Barry Trotz got his first in-game look at his projected top line. His linemates each had an assist as Lee, from the top of the crease, gave the Islanders a 2-0 lead with 54.6 seconds left in the first period. Seconds earlier, Lee had nearly scored as he redirected Chara’s feed from the left circle to the far post.
Chara, shooting from the low slot, nearly had his own goal in the second period on a shift that ended with Lee being whistled for tripping at 17:02.
Barzal and Lee have been linemates. It’s Palmieri who is new to the trio after Jordan Eberle was lost to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft.
"It was great to be out there with those two," Lee said. "We’re getting to know one another. We’ve been building it in practice. Now taking it to a game was really nice."
Trotz also dressed his projected second line of Brock Nelson centering Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Bailey. Beauvillier’s power-play goal — his second tally of the preseason — made it 1-0 at 1:33 of the first period.
Notes & quotes: Cory Schneider, who had allowed three goals in two relief outings, made 24 saves for the shutout as he became the first Islanders’ goalie to play a complete game this preseason. "It was an important game for Cory," Trotz said. "I didn’t think his previous games he was at the standard I expect him to be…" Bailey’s power-play goal with 14.4 seconds left in the third period completed the scoring…Defenseman Erik Gustafsson, in training camp on a professional tryout offer, had his second two-assist outing in three preseason games.