GLENDALE, Ariz. — The only lineup shuffle Islanders coach Barry Trotz was forced to make for Tuesday night’s 3-1 win over the Coyotes at Gila River Arena was inserting defenseman Luca Sbisa for the injured Thomas Hickey.
Top-line center Brock Nelson was able to play after taking defenseman Ian Cole’s knee to his thigh in Monday night’s 4-1 win in Colorado.
“It got better in the morning,” Nelson said after scoring his 11th goal of the season and taking a team-high five shots. “It was above the knee, so it was tight and pretty sore. The flight probably didn’t help.”
Hickey, appearing dazed, exited the game with an upper-body issue at 17:26 when he went hard into the side boards back first and could have suffered either a head or neck injury. The Islanders did not update his status other than Trotz saying he was being evaluated.
Nelson, limping, followed Hickey to the Islanders’ room 29 seconds later on Cole’s penalized hit.
But after being a game-time decision, Nelson extended his consecutive games streak to 128, the Islanders’ second-longest behind captain Anders Lee’s 151.
An NHL roster freeze is in effect from 11:59 p.m. Wednesday until 12:01 a.m. Dec. 28 but that will not preclude the Islanders from recalling a player from Bridgeport (AHL) if necessary. Trotz was not anticipating such a move.
“No, I think we’re OK,” Trotz said. “The only thing would be the Hickey situation. Lou [Lamoriello], he’s on that.”
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk had five of the Islanders’ 23 blocked shots … Defenseman Scott Mayfield fought Coyotes left wing Lawson Crouse, also 6-4, at 2:15 of the third period … Bridgeport center Stephen Gionta was suspended three games for a boarding incident against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Sunday … Forwards Ross Johnston and Tom Kuhnhackl remained healthy scratches.