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After playoff disappointment, Islanders itching to start new campaign

Lias Andersson #50 of the Rangers is checked

Lias Andersson #50 of the Rangers is checked into the boards by Adam Pelech #3 of the Islanders during the first period of a preseason game at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, September 24, 2019.  Credit: Steven Ryan

It often takes a while to get over playoff disappointment. The Islanders are coming off a successful season in many regards, but the frustration of being swept by the Hurricanes in the second round of the playoffs lingered a long time.

“For me, until now,” defenseman Adam Pelech said after Thursday’s practice in East Meadow. “You end on such a sour note. During the season, you get another shot in a night or two, but we had to wait four, five months. That’s part of the reason we’re all looking forward to Friday night.”

The Islanders will open the 2019-20 campaign — one they believe holds plenty of promise — against the Capitals on Friday night at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.

Casey Cizikas will be available, both he and coach Barry Trotz said, after the sparkplug center hobbled off the ice with an ankle issue late in Saturday night’s 4-2 win over the Rangers in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in the preseason finale. Cizikas said he immediately knew the injury was not as serious as it looked.

The Islanders will play their first three games and 12 of their first 17 at home as they try to reach the playoffs for the second straight season.

“Honestly, I didn’t even know that,” Cizikas said. “We focus on three-game segments. You try to get two out of three games, and if you continue doing that, at the end of the season, you put yourself in a good position.”

That was the Islanders’ formula last season as they went 48-27-7 in their first season under Trotz and finished one point behind the Capitals in the Metropolitan Division.

The Capitals, who opened the season with a 3-2 overtime win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Blues on Wednesday night in St. Louis, again will be without suspended top-line center Evgeny Kuznetsov and injured defenseman Michal Kempny.

Pelech’s defense partner, Ryan Pulock, believes the Islanders can be as good as last season, if not better.

“For sure I think we can be better,” he said. “I think it’s going to be really similar to last year in the sense of we’re going to have a lot of people to prove wrong. You look and already there’s not many expectations for us around the league. But we know in this locker room we have high expectations to do what we did last year and surpass that.”

Pulock also carried the sting of the playoff loss through the offseason.

“It’s one of those things you think about all summer,” he said. “There might be moments where you’re like, ‘Fudge, what could have been.’ It’s a new season Friday and it’s time to try and get back there.”

Notes & quotes: Defenseman Noah Dobson, the 12th overall pick in 2018, practiced, but Trotz said he still is not 100 percent after leaving Tuesday’s practice with a tweak . . . Dobson was assigned No. 8 after wearing No. 45 through training camp . . . Trotz declined to reveal his starting goalie, but the expectation is it will be Semyon Varlamov, signed to a four-year, $20 million deal after eight seasons with the Avalanche . . . Rookie goalie Ilya Samsonov will start for the Capitals.

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