OTTAWA, Ontario — The Islanders defeated the Coyotes on Long Island on Thursday night, flew to Canada and were right back at it Friday against the Senators at Canadian Tire Centre.
In theory, such back-to-backs are not conducive to winning, especially given what happened against the Senators: The Islanders dressed only 11 forwards, and because of injuries and penalties at one point in the second period were down to seven.
But they won anyway, 4-2, continuing a pattern under under coach Barry Trotz. They were 11-1-1 in the second game of back-to-backs last season, and they now are 2-0 this season.
Derick Brassard, who scored the Islanders’ final goal, admitted he was extra tired, “especially back-to-back nights . . . In the second period with all the penalties and the guys that went down, it was a little hard to kind of stay in it.”
Before the game, Trotz said of last season’s success, “I just think we had a four-line mentality. I really wasn’t concerned about matchups or anything. I think for the most part, we had pretty good juice. We weren’t overtaxing two or three players. Everybody was getting a good share of the workload. I think that helped us, that was a strength of us.”
Trotz also said having two goaltenders he can trust is a bonus on back-to-backs. Thomas Greiss was in net on Friday night after Semyon Varlamov handled the job on Thursday.
“To me, the back-to-backs aren’t physical, they’re just mental,” Trotz said. “I’ve had guys that will tell you that sometimes they feel better the second night. The game comes a little slower. You have a better feel for the puck when you had more touches the night before, and it just comes easier.
“Depending on who you ask, the mental thing is everything for me. If you don’t feel tired, you’re going to be just fine. These guys are in great shape. There’s not too many players in poor shape in the National Hockey League, and if they are they’re not usually in the National Hockey League very long.”
Notes & quotes: With Tom Kuhnhackl dressed – before he left with a potentially serious left leg injury – Oliver Wahlstrom took a seat. Noah Dobson was in the lineup as the Islanders went with seven defensemen. In addition to Wahlstrom the scratches were Michael Dal Colle and Ross Johnston.