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Barry Trotz: Islanders need a win for fans and themselves

Islanders head coach Barry Trotz looks on from

Islanders head coach Barry Trotz looks on from the bench against the New York Rangers at UBS Arena on Wednesday.  Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Islanders eventually will win a game at their new $1.1 billion UBS Arena.

It might even be on Friday night against the Penguins as they conclude the building’s first homestand, provided the NHL does not postpone the game because of the Islanders’ COVID-19 outbreak.

The last-place Islanders (5-9-2), who did not practice on Thanksgiving, had their losing streak extended to seven games with Wednesday night’s 4-1 loss to the Rangers. They have dropped each by at least three goals, including Saturday night’s arena-christening 5-2 loss to the Flames and Sunday night’s 3-0 loss to the Maple Leafs.

Is UBS Arena starting to feel more like home? "Well, we’re 0-3, so I don’t think I’ve got there yet," Trotz said Thursday. "But we haven’t had an ideal lineup. I’d like to see us get a victory in this building for two reasons. I think our fans deserve that. We need it for ourselves. For the standings. For a little bit of confidence going forward in this building.

"It’s a great building. People are on top of you. It’s a really good atmosphere. We’ve got to make it a really hard place for people to come in and play."

The Islanders had no new positive tests before Wednesday’s loss but were missing Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, Kieffer Bellows, Ross Johnston and defensemen Adam Pelech, Andy Greene and Zdeno Chara, all of whom remained in COVID-19 protocol. Brock Nelson and defensemen Noah Dobson and Ryan Pulock are sidelined with lower-body injuries.

That meant Scott Mayfield was the only defenseman available on Wednesday from among the team’s top six.

"If the effort wasn’t there, it would be concerning," Trotz said. "But the effort is there. We’re not getting the results and it’s not easy. We’ve got three NHL lines still. They may be bumped up a little bit because they’re missing some people. But we’re going to need some production from more of our top players."

Trotz had Mathew Barzal between Zach Parise and Richard Panik, a call-up from AHL Bridgeport with more than 520 games of NHL experience. Jean-Gabriel Pageau moved up to Nelson’s spot to center Anthony Beauvillier and Kyle Palmieri. Casey Cizikas’ identity line with Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck remains intact.

Otto Koivula’s third line with Andy Andreoff and Oliver Wahlstrom had the least experience but produced the lone goal.

Palmieri has one goal and six assists and Parise (three assists) has yet to score his first goal. Barzal has one goal and no assists over the last six games. Pageau has one goal and three assists and has gone eight games without a point.

"We’ve lost some opportunities because of execution," Trotz said. "We just need more production from guys that are put in those roles. We’ve got some guys that are dry. It’s hard to win hockey games when we’re a little bit depleted, and so you need people to find ways to produce."

New York Sports