Leo Komarov spent five seasons with the Maple Leafs before signing a four-year, $12-mllion deal with the Islanders this past offseason.
So while much of the focus Saturday in Toronto will be on the Islanders facing their former captain, John Tavares, for the first time since he signed a seven-year, $77-million deal with his hometown team, the game also will be a special one for Komarov.
“When I signed [with the Islanders], I kind of looked up the [Toronto] game and knew when the game was going to be,” he said. “The more I’ve been playing here, the more I’m starting to forget about it, too. It’s going to be a different game, but it’s still going to be the same, one of 82 in the season. But I still have so many friends, it’s going to be exciting to play against them.”
Komarov said his wife also is making the trip to see his return.
Islanders left wing Matt Martin, who spent the previous two seasons with the Maple Leafs, and president and general manager Lou Lamoriello, the Maple Leafs’ GM the previous three seasons, also are making their first returns to Toronto.
Martin fought Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki at 19:30 of the third period and Ross Johnston dropped the gloves with Senators defenseman Christian Jaros at 19:50. After the final buzzer, a five-on-five scrum developed, with defenseman Scott Mayfield drawing a fighting major and Casey Cizikas being called for roughing. “Matty wasn’t looking for anything,” Barry Trotz said. “I don’t know why their coaches were yelling at us.”
Defenseman Thomas Hickey (injured reserve/upper body) missed his fourth straight game and did not travel with the team to Toronto. Right wing Jordan Eberle (stiffness) missed a game for the first time this season, and Trotz said he was not sure if Eberle would accompany the team on the road. Cal Clutterbuck (lower body) was not able to play but traveled with the team. Defenseman Luca Sbisa was the healthy scratch after being in the lineup the past three games.
The Islanders re-assigned center John Stevens, 24, an undrafted free agent signed out of Northeastern in 2017, to Bridgeport (AHL). Stevens has yet to play this season because of a lower-body injury after compiling seven goals and 12 assists in 68 games for the Sound Tigers last season.