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Might be time for Matt Martin to return to Isles' identity line

Matt Martin #17 and Mathew Barzal #13 of

Matt Martin #17 and Mathew Barzal #13 of the Islanders react after Game 3 of the semifinals of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday, June 17, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac

SUNRISE, Fla. — Matt Martin could make his season debut after offseason ankle surgery when the Islanders continue their franchise-record 13-game road trip in Chicago on Tuesday night.

Even if Martin continues to sit, coach Barry Trotz said after Saturday night’s 5-1 loss to the Panthers that he needs more out of his identity-setting fourth line. "That line gives us a lot of juice," he said. "Honestly, I don’t think they’ve been really good at all compared to what their ceiling is. That is a little bit concerning. But I can say that about a couple of lines."

Trotz inserted pesky Leo Komarov on Casey Cizikas’ left wing along with Cal Clutterbuck after Ross Johnston manned Martin’s spot in Thursday’s 6-3 loss at Carolina. Johnston logged a game-low 5:50 of ice time.

Martin remains on the non-roster/injured list but has participated fully in practices. 

Better showing

Oliver Wahlstrom had a goal and four shots in 12:32 after a rocky training camp and some miscues in the season opener. The Islanders need consistency from the third-year pro with the blistering wrist shot.

"Just straight lines," he said. "Play up and down my wing and use my shot. I think that’s the key. Just got to keep working and string a couple of games together." 

Isles files

The Islanders went 1-for-4 with nine shots on the power play after going 0-for-3 without a shot on Thursday . . . The Islanders had not played the Panthers since a 3-1 win at Florida on Dec. 12, 2019. Teams played only divisional rivals last season because of the COVID-19 pandemic . . . Sebastian Aho and Kieffer Bellows remained healthy scratches, but Trotz said he is inclined to get Aho’s puck-moving skills as a defenseman into the lineup soon.

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