Casey Cizikas scored a shorthanded goal and was credited with a deflection for a second goal, his 19th of the season, on “Boo John Tavares Night.”
The second one was changed after the Islanders’ 6-1 win over Toronto on Thursday at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum. It became Nick Leddy’s goal.
No matter. Cizikas still has a career-high 18. That’s rather impressive, considering he’s on the fourth line. But the 28-year-old center is quick to pass when it comes to the credit.
“Yeah, it’s definitely nice, but . . . I don’t think I’d have 18 if it wasn’t for my linemates and the guys in the room,” Cizikas said at the morning skate before the Islanders’ 3-1 loss to Washington on Friday night at the Coliseum.
“They’re the ones battling in the corner and the ones getting the puck. I’m just the lucky one to find the open puck in front of the net. Without them going to the net, taking away the D-men, taking away the goalie’s eyes and making plays along the walls and getting the puck out, I don’t think I’d be where I’m at.”
He’s having his best season. That’s where he’s at.
“You’re talking about a player who leaves everything on the ice every day,” coach Barry Trotz said. “It’s not only during the games. It’s practices. He’s got a motor, and that’s a skill in itself. He’s grown. He’s had a terrific year.”
This is Cizikas’ eighth season with the Islanders. He has doubled his previous high for goals. He has assisted on 10 to give him 28 points. He was pointless against the Capitals but did draw a penalty to even the sides 15 seconds after the Islanders took one while trailing 2-1 in the third period.
He’s also a team-leading plus-25. His career high in that category is plus-9 in the 2016-17 season.
“He’s scored big goals,” Trotz said. “I’ve given him some tough matchups, a lot of times ‘A’ and ‘B’ type of matchups. He’s played an important role for us.”
It hasn’t hurt that Cizikas and right wing Cal Clutterbuck have gotten to reconnect with old linemate Matt Martin this season, although Martin had to be scratched against Washington because of an upper-body injury. Martin played the previous two seasons with Toronto.
“That whole line has the identity that they’re hard to play against,” Trotz said. “There are not too many lines in the league that sort of can get on you and score a little bit and rough you up a little bit.”
Cizikas is shooting to score even more in this push toward the playoffs. As he put it: “Just got to keep working hard, keep taking the puck to the net and creating chances.”
With Andrew Gross