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Islanders get a chance to reset as they play one game in 10 days during long road trip

Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin splashes water onto his

Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin splashes water onto his face during the third period against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, in Glendale, Ariz.  Credit: AP/Ross D. Franklin

It’s the three Rs, hockey-style.

"Regroup. Reset. Re-energize," the Islanders’ Matt Martin said. "And get ready for the second half of this one."

That’s the mission for this week after the Islanders concluded the long first portion of their season-opening 13-game road trip with back-to-back shutouts, beating the Coyotes, 3-0, on Saturday night and the Golden Knights, 2-0, on Sunday night.

It gave the Islanders (3-2-1) a four-game point streak after they started the trip with a 6-3 loss to the Hurricanes and a 5-1 loss to the Panthers.

The Islanders flew home on their chartered red-eye after Sunday’s game and did not practice Monday. In an odd bit of scheduling, they won’t play again until Saturday in Nashville, their only game in a 10-day stretch.

Coach Barry Trotz has a chance to give his team some time off while also potentially structuring practices this week as a mini-training camp. It also should clear the Islanders’ room of any remnants of the stomach illness that sidelined Anders Lee for Tuesday’s 4-1 win in Chicago and Jean-Gabriel Pageau for Thursday’s 3-2 overtime loss in Columbus.

"Yeah, it’s definitely weird schedule-wise," Martin said. "But I think we’ll try to use that time to get some rest and recover. To start the season on this long a road trip is a big challenge, and then a few guys get the flu bug. It’s going around. It gives everyone a chance to reset and get re-energized and focus on the second part of the trip."

First and foremost, though, the players and team personnel were looking to reunite with their families after nearly two weeks on the road. The Islanders departed for Carolina on Oct. 13.

"It’ll be nice," Casey Cizikas said. "I think every guy is excited to get back, see their family, have a few days at home, get the body ready again, get the mind fresh. It’s going to be nice to get back there and have a couple of days to ourselves."

While the Islanders still have seven games to go until their home opener at the $1.1 billion UBS Arena at Belmont Park on Nov. 20 against the Flames, the rest of the road trip will be broken down into more manageable segments.

They will return to New York after playing in Nashville. They then will play three games in four nights in Montreal, Winnipeg and Minnesota but can return home again after that stretch.

That’s followed by one game in seven days, against the Devils on Nov. 11. The last two games of the road stretch are against the Lightning and Panthers on Nov. 15-16.

So in terms of frequent flyer miles, the hard part is over.

"The situation we’re in here, being on the road, is not an easy one," Josh Bailey said. "I thought we regrouped well as the trip went on. We just kept fighting, we kept sticking together. That’s what it’s really all about, sticking together and trusting each other."

Notes & quotes: Goalie Ilya Sorokin was named the NHL’s third star of the week after going 3-0-1 with a 0.99 goals-against average and a .971 save percentage. He became the first goalie in Islanders history to record road shutouts on consecutive days and the first since the Jets’ Ondrej Pavelec on April 6-7, 2015. The Jets’ Kyle Connor was named the NHL’s first star and the Oilers’ Connor McDavid was the second star . . . Goalie Cory Schneider was placed on waivers and can be reassigned to the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport if he clears, which indicates that Semyon Varlamov (soreness) is ready to be activated off injured reserve and make his season debut.

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