Kyle Palmieri #21 of the Islanders celebrates his third period goal...

Kyle Palmieri #21 of the Islanders celebrates his third period goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets at UBS Arena on Sunday, Mar. 31, 2022. Credit: Jim McIsaac

MORRISVILLE, N.C. — Kyle Palmieri’s maintenance-day absence from a rare Islanders practice on Thursday is not expected to impact his availability Friday night against the Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes in the penultimate match of a five-game road trip.

Coach Barry Trotz expects Palmieri to play after he limped off briefly during Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Stars but finished the game. Given his recent productive play, the Islanders need Palmieri to be available.

“Things weren’t going right at the beginning of the year, pucks weren’t going in, and it can wear on your mentality,” Zach Parise said after Thursday’s energetic 45-minute session at Wake Competition Center. “He always came in with a great attitude. But you can tell once it started going in for him, the confidence with the puck and making plays has gone completely to the next level and really been huge for our depth. The balance that we’ve gotten through four lines, he’s a huge part of that.”

Palmieri has 13 goals and 14 assists in 56 games after notching only one goal in his first 29 games. Kieffer Bellows skated in his spot on second-line center Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s right wing along with Josh Bailey at Thursday’s practice, the Islanders’ first since March 8 because of their condensed schedule.

“It was a restart,” Trotz said. “The first half of the season wasn’t very good for him and it wasn’t very good for a number of our top guys. You’re only as good as your top players. We had a lot of guys that got off to slow starts. It’s hard to get off to great starts when you have a lot of your top players not playing at the level they need to and producing at the level they need to.”

But Trotz saw enough in Palmieri’s game during last season’s run to the NHL semifinals to remain confident in his abilities. Palmieri had seven goals and two assists in 19 playoff games after struggling with two goals and two assists in 17 regular-season games following his trade from the Devils.

“A lot of the stuff that I saw in the playoffs, you’re seeing in the second half,” Trotz said. “He’s hard on pucks. He’s got a real good release. He’s good on walls. He can make plays under duress and those are things you saw in the playoffs. You didn’t see them really at the start of the year as much, but you have in the second half.”

The Islanders (32-28-9) are 13 points behind the Capitals for the Eastern Conference’s final wild-card spot with 13 games to play.

Notes & quotes: Trotz did not indicate whether he planned to start Ilya Sorokin or Semyon Varlamov against the Hurricanes. The goalies are expected to split the back-to-back games with the road trip concluding Saturday night against the Blues. Sorokin has not played since exiting a 4-1 loss to the Lightning at UBS Arena after two periods on March 27 and not dressing for the subsequent four games because of a head injury.

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