BOSTON - Josh Bailey, already playing his best hockey in a couple of years to start this season, had a terrific first period Thursday night, setting up Frans Nielsen's game-opening goal.
But Bailey didn't make it to the second period. He suffered a broken hand on a slash and will be out for several weeks.
"He was our best forward on the ice that first period," Kyle Okposo said. "It's a tough break for sure."
Bailey's assist on Nielsen's goal gave him four points in seven games. Bailey had embraced a new role as a checking-line wing, playing a more physical game through the first part of the season than he had in his previous six years.
Bailey had a rather humdrum training camp but followed through on the coaching staff's desire to see him add some grit and feistiness to his game. It helped translate into better offensive play as well.
"We lose another guy who's been playing real well for us. It's bad luck," Jack Capuano said. "Every time we seem to take a step forward with the roster, we lose someone else."
Colin McDonald cleared waivers yesterday and was assigned to Bridgeport, but the veteran wing could be headed back if Mikhail Grabovski (concussion) is not ready when the Islanders face the Stars at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday.
Travis Hamonic managed to play Tuesday through an upper-body injury he suffered in Pittsburgh on Saturday, but he did not make the trip to Boston and is day-to-day.
Hamonic led the Isles with 22:33 of ice time on Tuesday and termed himself "good enough to play" in that game, a 5-2 loss to Toronto.
Brian Strait stayed in the lineup for Hamonic rather than coming out to allow Lubomir Visnovsky to return.
Hickey escapes injury
Thomas Hickey was paired with Visnovsky, his semiregular defense partner the last two seasons. Visnovsky came off injured reserve to make his season debut Thursday night.
Hickey very nearly didn't make it into the lineup himself. He needed two dozen stitches to close a skate cut from his mouth to his chin, a freak accident in the third period of Tuesday's loss to the Leafs.
"I've been hit in the face with pucks before, so I just tried not to worry that it was really bad," Hickey said. "Once the numbing medication wore off that night, I didn't feel too bad."
Hickey played with a clear shield covering his jaw.
Anders Lee was upset when he was sent down to open the season, but he returned to the Isles to make his season debut. He had three goals and five points in six games with Bridgeport. "I felt good about my game [at the time of the demotion],'' he said, "but you can always be better."