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Islanders' Casey Cizikas plugs away to two-goal game vs. Capitals

Islanders center Casey Cizikas, left, celebrates his goal

Islanders center Casey Cizikas, left, celebrates his goal with right wing Leo Komarov (47) during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019, in Washington.  Credit: AP/Nick Wass

WASHINGTON — Islanders fourth-line center Casey Cizikas set a career high with 20 goals last season. His previous best in his first six full NHL seasons was nine.

His fourth career two-goal game in Tuesday afternoon’s 4-3 win over the Capitals at Capital One Arena gave Cizikas eight, with the Islanders still three games from their season’s midpoint.

“Last year, he didn’t have a focus of scoring 20, he just had a focus of playing hard every night, playing Cizikas hockey,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “When he got close to 20 last year, he started thinking like a 20-goal scorer and he got less chances to have success.”

Trotz said he told Cizikas, “You’re better than nine and 20 is pretty hard,” when the two met after last season.

Cizikas has three goals in three games after scoring shorthanded in Friday night’s 5-2 loss at Chicago. That gave him three shorthanded goals this season.

He had two, two-goal games last season but is still looking for his first career hat trick.

“I’m not even going to think about it,” Cizikas said. “We got a win in a building like this against a team like this, that is the big thing.”

Notes & Quotes: The New Year’s Eve matinee marked the Islanders third afternoon game of December and they did not hold a practice — or, obviously, a morning skate — before any of the three. They went 2-0-1. “We got here past 2,” Trotz said of Monday’s arrival from Minnesota. “I’d rather be fresh. You get into the dog days and it becomes a grind. So, you try to pick and choose. I’m not afraid of taking an extra 12 hours off from not being on the ice.” . . . Defenseman Nick Leddy has assists in three straight games . . . Rookie defenseman Noah Dobson and Michael Dal Colle remained healthy scratches.

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