This time, it was an Islanders’ teammate sticking up for mammoth Ross Johnston.
Sabres defenseman Marco Scandella drove the 6-5, 235 left wing, who coach Barry Trotz had on Mathew Barzal’s top line with Josh Bailey for the fifth straight game, into the side boards at 18:22 of the first period of the Islanders’ 3-2 overtime win on Saturday afternoon at Nassau Coliseum.
A shaken Johnston remained on his knees while Bailey confronted Scandella, earning a double-minor for roughing.
“I haven’t actually seen the video,” said Johnston, who leads the team with 35 penalty minutes and three fighting majors. “I’m not going to say it was a dirty hit. I just got the puck and turned. I just felt I got cranked. I’m a little stiff now.”
And Bailey’s response?
“Love it,” said Johnston, who returned in the second period and logged 9:05. “I don’t think that was the intent Barry had when he put us three together. Bails is a great teammate. Anytime somebody gets cranked, even when it’s me, he’s the first one in there.”
Johnston was not pulled by the NHL spotter to go through concussion protocol.
There likely will be no update on right wing Michael Dal Colle (upper body), who exited at 17:37 of the first period after a collision with Conor Sheary, until Monday as the Islanders will not practice on Sunday…Defenseman Nick Leddy (lower body) participated in the pregame warmups but missed his third straight game…Forward Leo Komarov was a healthy scratch for the third straight game…Semyon Varlamov’s start extended the franchise record goalie rotation to start the season to 31 games…The Islanders have won six straight at home and are 12-0-1 on home ice since Oct. 12…The Islanders tied a franchise record by winning 73.0 of the faceoffs (33-of-45)…The attendance was a near-sellout 13,795.