Casey Cizikas returned after missing six games with an upper-body injury, playing wing on a line with Brock Nelson and Alan Quine.
“Excited to get him back,” coach Doug Weight said before the game. “Certainly the reliability and the responsibility he has defensively, forechecking, he has a big engine and brings a lot of energy.”
Cizikas said the coaches left his return date largely up to him, and rather than hurry back he used the All-Star break to get fully comfortable.
“It was just a matter of making sure I wasn’t rushing coming back,” he said. “I’ve done that before and it kind of bit me in the butt a little bit.”
Cappy back in town
Former Islanders coach Jack Capuano, whom Weight replaced last January, was at Barclays as the Panthers’ associate head coach.
Asked what he learned from Capuano while assisting him, Weight said, “Oh, gosh, everything. Watched a lot of video with Jack and watched him run a lot of practices. You pick each other’s brain up there for five years.”
With the All-Star Game behind them, the Islanders are preparing for a playoff run in a Metropolitan Division, where the standings have been tightly packed all season.
The Rangers and Islanders are tied for sixth place with 55 points, but are only eight points from first place.
“Our division’s been just a mess,” Weight said. “If you have a good week you jump five stops. You can be six, seven games over .500 and one point out of last in your division . . . Definitely on a night-by-night basis it’s amped up. The games are a little more important. You’re rooting for two teams [in your division] not to tie. It comes down to taking care of business yourself.”
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