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Rookie Noah Dobson, beaten for a goal, gets a taste of NHL talent

Noah Dobson #8 of the Islanders looks on

Noah Dobson #8 of the Islanders looks on during the first period against the Buffalo Sabres at NYCB Live on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019. Credit: Jim McIsaac

TORONTO — Barry Trotz didn’t eavesdrop on Johnny Boychuk’s conversation with defense partner Noah Dobson on the bench. But the Islanders’ coach had a fairly good idea of what the veteran was telling the 19-year-old rookie.

Kasperi Kapanen had just pushed the puck through Dobson’s legs to feed Pierre Engvall at 13:25 of the second period for the game’s first goal in the Maple Leafs’ 3-0 victory on Saturday night at Scotiabank Arena.

“You always try to give him space, but when you see something, you always try to help him out and talk to him and help him learn,” said Boychuk, who will turn 36 on Jan. 19 and played in his 700th NHL regular-season game.

Or, as Boychuk told Trotz, “That’s happened to me multiple times. You let it go and just continue.”

“There are good players in the league,” Trotz said. “It’s not always going to go your way.”

That one moment came in the midst of an overall strong performance by Dobson, who dressed for his 13th NHL game and second since the Islanders lost top-pair defenseman Adam Pelech for the season to an Achilles tendon injury.

The right-shooting Dobson, playing his off-side while paired with the right-shooting Boychuk, logged 10:54 with three shots. He also was on the ice for Zach Hyman’s empty-netter to close the scoring at 17:52 of the third period.

“He had a strong game, for the most part,” Trotz said. “He’d like to have that rush back. That’s the growing pains you’re going to go through. There’s not a defenseman playing in this league that hasn’t had that moment. He had it tonight and he’ll be better for it.”

“You’re not going to replace Adam,” Trotz had said before the game. “It’s just next man up. That’s got to be our mentality all the time.”

In addition to the Dobson-Boychuk pairing, Trotz moved lefthanded-shooting Nick Leddy into Pelech’s spot with righty Ryan Pulock.

Leddy also might get some of Pelech’s penalty-kill time.   

Isles files

Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Ceci hooked Tom Kuhnhackl at 17:10 of the second period for the game’s only penalty. It’s the second time this season the Islanders were not penalized in a game . . . Defenseman Sebastian Aho, recalled from the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport on Friday, and Ross Johnston were the healthy scratches. Johnston was a healthy scratch for only the second time in 14 games.

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