Neither Kyle Palmieri nor Cal Clutterbuck has resumed skating, so both injured forwards (upper-body issues) almost certainly will miss Sunday night’s game against Chicago at UBS Arena as the Islanders try to snap a two-game losing streak.
Josh Bailey did return to the lineup for Friday’s 4-1 loss to the Predators, which opened this three-game homestand, after missing Tuesday’s 3-1 loss in Philadelphia with an upper-body injury. Bailey participated in pregame warmups for both contests, testing to see if he could play that night.
“I’m just focusing on what I can control,” Bailey said after Saturday’s practice at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow when asked if the absence of Palmieri and Clutterbuck put any more pressure on him to dress for the game. “Obviously, we want those guys back.
“I feel fine. It tightened up the other day and it’s nothing I haven’t dealt with before. I think I know my body well and know how to handle it and how to get back on the right track.”
Which is something the Islanders want to do against Chicago. They have lost three straight only once this season.
“We’re getting ready for our next game, bottom line,” coach Lane Lambert said. “You don’t even get into that thought process or that negativity. It’s just a matter of whether we win or lose, we prepare for the next game. That’s our mindset.”
Lambert ran an upbeat practice on Saturday with an emphasis on getting more traffic to the net. The Islanders took a season-high 49 shots against the Predators and outchanced them 77-43, but goalie Kevin Lankinen had a clear look at many of the attempts.
“I think the Philly game was a little worse than the Nashville game,” Matt Martin said. “We’re going to win that game more often than not and, at the end of the day, that’s the goal. The Philly game, that was the disappointing one. We never really got to our game all night and we just need a little more. We’re not concerned. I think we had a good practice today and our energy is up.”
Bailey skated on top-line center Mathew Barzal’s left wing alongside Oliver Wahlstrom on Saturday. Lambert has toggled him between that spot and third-line center Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s right wing along with Zach Parise.
Lambert is still looking for the best way to balance his lineup with Palmieri, who remains on injured reserve, and Clutterbuck absent.
“There’s some subtleties in your game that maybe change,” Bailey said. “You’re playing with different players, so that always changes a little bit. I still want to stay true to my game and who I am. It can just be little things around the ice. Barzy is a guy who controls the puck and you want him to have the puck. With Pager, he’s a little more give-and-go action. They both do a lot of things well.”
Bailey, who played his 1,000th game, all with the Islanders, earlier this season, has not yet had the consistent offensive production the team needs, particularly with Palmieri and Clutterbuck missing. Bailey has four goals and three assists in 21 games and has been a healthy scratch three times in addition to missing the loss to the Flyers because of injury.
“I’m not focusing on that,” Bailey said of his lineup absences. “I’m focusing on what I can control, and that’s to go out and play as good as I can.”
Notes & quotes: G Ilya Sorokin is expected to make his third straight start on Sunday . . . F Hudson Fasching, recalled from the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport on Thursday, is expected to be a healthy scratch for the second straight game . . . F Cole Bardreau, who logged a team-low 6:00 of ice time against the Predators with a first-period slashing minor that led to a power-play goal, was reassigned to Bridgeport after being recalled with Fasching.