SUNRISE, Fla. - Michal Neuvirth will have to wait a bit longer for his new goalie pads and blocker, but he waited only five days for his first Islanders start.
Neuvirth made his Islanders debut here Saturday night, still wearing the blue-and-gold-trimmed pads and blocker he brought from the Sabres when the Isles aquired him last Monday for Chad Johnson and a 2016 third-round pick.
The new gear will arrive on Long Island next week, but the new goaltender was ready to go.
"It's exciting to have a game finally," Neuvirth said after the Isles' morning skate. "We've been playing every other day, a lot of optional skates, a tough schedule. You have to learn as you go."
Neuvirth was talking about communication with his defense and playing the puck more than stopping shots, something he did with regularity during his final eight games with the Sabres, played over a 13-day span.
Depending on Saturday night's game, with the Islanders headed into games Monday in Toronto against the Maple Leafs and Tuesday at the Coliseum against the Rangers, it seemed likely that Neuvirth would get consecutive starts for his new team. Jaroslav Halak played three of his best games this season against the Rangers before the most recent meeting, a 6-5 loss.
Johnson didn't even get into a game with his new team. He suffered a lower-body injury during Friday's morning skate in Ottawa and could miss the remainder of the Sabres' season.
Flu bug bites Ekblad
Rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad, one of the latest to catch the flu that's been going around the Florida team, missed a game for the first time this season Saturday night. Jaromir Jagr returned after missing Thursday's game with the flu. This is on top of Tuesday's losses to injury of both Panthers goaltenders, Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya.