Circumstances conspired to have coach Barry Trotz finally start Mathew Barzal and Oliver Wahlstrom on a line together for the first time this season in the Islanders’ 4-3 win over the Ducks on Sunday night at UBS Arena.
Barzal, in his second game back after missing six with a lower-body injury, has been reassigned to Wahlstrom’s third line for now. Wahlstrom was back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch for Friday night’s 5-2 win over the Jets.
"I’m just going to look at their five-on-five," said Trotz, dismissing Wahlstrom’s team-low 7:35 of ice time as the result of situational play and special teams. "I was happy with Wahlly’s game."
Trotz has been reluctant to use the two offensive-minded players together, often citing Barzal’s unique free-wheeling skating style and penchant for keeping the puck on his stick as a potentially difficult adjustment for Wahlstrom. He also is hesitant to expose Wahlstrom, the 11th overall pick in 2018, to too many matchups against the opposition’s best players.
The line produced a goal on its first shift, by Zach Parise, and Wahlstrom nearly scored on its second before Ducks goaltender John Gibson reached back with his stick.
Massapequa’s Sonny Milano logged 16:59 with four shots in his third career NHL game on Long Island and his first for the Ducks.
The 25-year-old left wing was the 16th overall pick in 2014 by the Blue Jackets. He went without a point in Columbus’ 4-3 loss to the Islanders on March 31, 2016, and in a 2-0 loss on Nov. 30, 2019. Both of those games were at Barclays Center.
The Islanders have scored at least four goals in four straight games for the first time this season . . . Casey Cizikas took two penalties and has six minors in his last three games . . . Brock Nelson had his goal streak snapped at four games.