Anthony Beauvillier knows exactly what to expect when the Islanders resume practicing on Tuesday.
“It’s just going to be tough practices and it’s going to feel a little bit like training camp again,” Beauvillier said after Sunday’s practice in East Meadow. The team was given Monday off.
The Islanders opened the season with eight games in 16 days but now are in a stretch of three games in 12 days. They next play against the Coyotes on Thursday night at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum — starting a stretch of three games in four nights preceded and followed by stretches of four straight days without a game — after earning their fourth straight victory Saturday night, a 3-2 overtime win at Columbus.
Coach Barry Trotz ran an energetic practice Sunday that lasted about 45 minutes, concentrating on breakouts and tight-quarter battles.
“It’s an opportunity,” captain Anders Lee said. “I’ll rest and put in a couple of hard workouts and skates to kind of increase endurance. When you go every other day, it’s tough to do that in the middle of the season. Take advantage of it now and build a good base off the ice.”
“It’s kind of weird. You’re used to playing every second day,” Beauvillier said. “The rest is going to be good for us, I think. Just resting the body, resting the mind here a little bit.”
“It’s part of the NHL,” Trotz added. “We’ve played eight games and there are teams that have played like four. Hopefully we get a couple of people that got banged up [Saturday] night or the last couple of games healed up. There’s good and bad. If we had lost two, we’d go, ‘Man, we can use this break.’ ”
The Islanders are likely to be without top-line right wing Jordan Eberle and fourth-line center Casey Cizikas, both on injured reserve with lower-body injuries, when practice resumes Tuesday, and Trotz said it is doubtful that either will be ready for Thursday’s game.
Leo Komarov, moved from right wing to sub for Cizikas on the fourth line, missed Saturday night’s game and Sunday’s practice because of illness but is expected to be recovered in time for Thursday.
The Islanders are finding ways to win despite efforts that have not been consistent throughout the full game, and they can ill afford to have whatever momentum they’ve built fade.
They opened a two-game road trip with a 3-1 win at Winnipeg on Thursday despite another sluggish first period, as they allowed the first goal for the fourth straight game. That streak ended Saturday, when the Islanders played their best first period of the season before the Blue Jackets took over play in the second period and into the third.
“We’re finding ways to win,” right wing Cal Clutterbuck said. “We kind of needed to with the start we had. We’ve got a couple of key guys down. I’m encouraged by the level of commitment on the defensive side of the puck. I think there’s things we can do to make sure we don’t spend that much time in our end. But I’m definitely encouraged by the goaltending, the defense’s ability to defend and the forwards paying the price.”