Islanders right wing Josh Bailey sets before a face off...

Islanders right wing Josh Bailey sets before a face off against the Blue Jackets in the second period of an NHL game at UBS Arena on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

DALLAS — Josh Bailey does not consider this the next phase of his career, the one in which he’s not an automatic to be in the Islanders’ lineup.

The longest-tenured Islander, who reached the 1,000-game milestone earlier this season, was back on Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s third line along with Kyle Palmieri for Saturday night’s game against the Stars at American Airlines Center after being a healthy scratch for the first two games of this four-game road trip.

“I’m not thinking of it that way,” Bailey said. “My focus hasn’t changed over the years. It’s going to stay the same until the day I’m done playing. It’s one day at a time. Today’s a new day.”

Bailey entered Saturday with three goals and two assists in 15 games and had gone five games without a point when coach Lane Lambert took him out in favor of Ross Johnston’s more physical style.

But Lambert shortened his bench for the final 30 minutes of Thursday’s 5-4 loss in Nashville as the Islanders tried to rally from a three-goal deficit. Johnston logged only 6:12 of ice time without a shift in the third period.

“It wasn’t about his play,” Lambert said of making Bailey a healthy scratch in back-to-back games, including Monday’s 4-2 win in Ottawa. “We’re just expecting what we expect out of him. He’s going to contribute to the offense. A very cerebral, smart player that does a lot of good things.”

“I’ve had multiple talks with Laner,” Bailey said. “That will stay between us. But they were good. He’s an honest guy. You can’t ask for much more from your coach.”

Bailey already has been a healthy scratch three times this season. Lambert also sat him for a 5-3 road loss to the Lightning on Oct. 22 in favor of Nikita Soshnikov, since reassigned to the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport after clearing waivers. That kept the 33-year-old Bailey, who has one season remaining on a six-year, $30 million deal, from reaching his 1,000th game at UBS Arena against the Rangers. He instead reached the milestone in Carolina.

“Just to stay patient, hang in there,” Bailey said of the message from Lambert. “You obviously want to be out there, but you do what you can to support your teammates.

“You’re accustomed to playing pretty well every other day. It is what it is. At this point in my career, I’ve been through these things before. You stay ready, and when you get back out there, you try to make the most of it.”

Last season, former coach Barry Trotz made Bailey a healthy scratch in back-to-back games in San Jose and Los Angeles on Feb. 24-26. Before that, Bailey had not been a healthy scratch since Nov. 8, 2015.

Bailey certainly is not complacent about being held out of the lineup. At the same time, his demeanor did not change. He was relaxed and joking around in the dressing room in Tampa Bay the first time he was a healthy scratch this season.

His teammates expect no less.

“You would have known even before that started happening he would have handled it well,” said Palmieri, who played in his 700th NHL game on Saturday. “He’s a pro. He’s been around the game for a long time. It’s something that you see happening, guys go through it. He’s not a guy that’s going to be a distraction or have a negative impact. He’s as supportive as any teammate I’ve ever played with. He wants guys to do well and that’s a sign of a great teammate and Josh is the epitome of that.”

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