The Islanders played 10 of their last 14 games on the road and concluded the first half of their season with disappointing results.
They’ll open the second half of their 82-game slate with eight of their next 11 at UBS Arena leading into the All-Star break, beginning a season-high five-game homestand on Tuesday night against the Stars.
The Islanders, who have played well at home, know they must take advantage of what could be a make-or-break segment that determines whether they reach the playoffs.
“Of course,” Zach Parise said. “We always say how tight our division is, how hard our division is. You feel like teams just rarely lose. So we have to take care of our own business. It feels like we’ve been on the road for eight weeks. It will be nice for us to get back home and play there. Turn the page but learn from what we could have done better on the trip.”
The Islanders (22-17-2) concluded a disappointing and not particularly well-played 1-3-0 western road swing with a 4-1 loss to the Flames on Friday night. They also lost to the Kraken, 4-1, and the Oilers, 4-2, and played a sluggish first period against the Canucks before rallying for a 6-2 win.
The Islanders also went 1-2-2 on their season-high five-game road trip from Dec. 13-22 that included matches in Arizona, Vegas and Colorado.
The Islanders are 12-6-0 at home, sweeping the three-game homestand that was sandwiched between their two lengthy trips.
“It’s very important,” defenseman Ryan Pulock said. “We have to use home-ice advantage to our advantage. We’ve been playing good there lately and we’ve got to keep that up. Obviously not the road trip we wanted. But if you look at the big picture, if we go home and get on a streak, we’re right back in it. It’s in our hands.
“We’ve got to find a way to do a little better job on the road and try to put together a full 60 [minutes] and stay in games. But right now, our focus has to be on regrouping here and just focusing on this stretch coming up at home.”
The Islanders are at a loss to explain why they can prosper at home but not on the road.
“It’s a good question,” Parise said. “We’re just a little under .500 on the road [10-11-2]. The game plans are never different. That’s a tough one. We don’t play any differently. We try not to, at least.”
The big difference is the home team has the final line change and can better dictate matchups.
“It’s a big stretch for us,” coach Lane Lambert said. “We’ve been on the road for a while. It’s a big stretch for us to go home and play well at home. We get last change, matchups, that type of stuff. But overall, our road record has been pretty good this year if you look at coming in prior to this trip. Whether we’re home or away, we just have to find a way.”