DENVER — As much as the Islanders have enjoyed their regular-season return to NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum for the first time since 2015, they’re looking forward to getting away from home for an extended trip.
“It might be good for us to be on the road a little bit,” coach Barry Trotz said. “We’ve been in the New York area for quite a while.”
Beginning with a game against the Avalanche on Monday night at Pepsi Center, the Islanders face a four-game road trip that will take them through the NHL roster freeze that begins on Wednesday and into their Christmas break. The Islanders, who did not practice on Sunday before departing, also will play at Arizona on Tuesday, Vegas on Thursday and Dallas next Sunday.
They did have a two-game jaunt to Pittsburgh and Detroit on Dec. 6-8, but this marks their longest road trip since going to Nashville, Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose on Oct. 13-20.
“I think it’s kind of nice, get on the road, be together as a group, kind of get that bonding again,” said center Mathew Barzal, who had a goal, an assist and the shootout winner in a 4-3 win over the Red Wings on Saturday night at the Coliseum. “I get excited playing in front of other fans. I think we all do.”
“It’s right before Christmas, right before everyone gets to see family and get some time off,” said Anthony Beauvillier, who extended his goal streak to three games on Saturday. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Granted, this is more about business than pleasure for the Islanders (15-12-4), who woke up Sunday morning two points out of third in the Metropolitan Division.
“I think it’s extremely important,” captain Anders Lee said. “You’re going to see in these next four, five games things start to settle in a little bit. It’s that time of the year where these points are crucial. Moves are starting to be made and things start to get a little more set in stone. It only gets harder and harder to climb out of a hole if you get put in one.”
The Islanders are only 3-4-2 since Nov. 26, and though they outshot the Red Wings 48-21, they have netted only 17 goals in their last nine games. Saturday did mark the first time in 10 attempts that they came back to win after trailing through two periods.
“The only momentum that we have is that we won a game and we’re going to Colorado,” Trotz said. “You feel positive.”