Kyle Palmieri of the Islanders warms up before a game against...

Kyle Palmieri of the Islanders warms up before a game against the Kings UBS Arena on Jan. 27. Credit: Jim McIsaac

BUFFALO — At this point, Barry Trotz figures the key for Kyle Palmieri is forgetting. Forget the contract. Forget the first half of the season. Forget producing just one goal and six assists in his first 29 games. Focus on what can be done now to help the Islanders’ long-shot odds of pulling themselves back into playoff contention.

So the Islanders coach re-inserted the Smithtown product into the lineup for Tuesday night’s game against the Sabres at KeyBank Center to conclude this four-game road trip that started 1-2-0. Palmieri was a healthy scratch for losses in Edmonton and Calgary after he missed the trip-opening 6-3 win in Vancouver on Wednesday as his wife gave birth to their first child.

"It’s one of those years," Trotz said. "I just talked to him, ‘Let’s forget about the first half of the season, let’s focus on the last half of this regular season and see if we can get a little more traction, a little more production.’ He’s playing with a little bit of a burden. He wants to do well. He signed up with us after being a free agent. He wants to prove that he’s worthy of that. He’s had a real struggle.

"I said, ‘Let’s get rid of that burden. You’re a good hockey player. You’re a productive hockey player. You can play with an edge.’"

And Palmieri came through with two goals, one in the first period that tied the game at 1-1 and another in the third period that tied it 3-3.

Palmieri agreed to a four-year, $20 million extension after being acquired from the Devils at last season’s trade deadline.

Yet this season has continued the decline in Palmieri’s production that saw him dip to 10 goals and 11 assists in 51 games last season after he scored at least 24 goals in each of his five full seasons with the Devils, including a career-high 30 in 2015-16.

Palmieri did have seven goals and two assists in 19 games as the Islanders reached Game 7 of the NHL semifinals before losing to the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Lightning.

That’s the production the Islanders crave if they are to have a chance at a fourth straight playoff berth under Trotz.

The Islanders began play on Tuesday 17 points out of a playoff spot.

"I thought early in the year he was getting a lot of chances," Trotz said. "But a little bit snakebit early. He wasn’t the only one. And then he ran into a little bit of an injury problem, which put him back."

Palmieri, who missed 10 games from Dec. 19-Jan. 25 with a lower-body injury, is ninth on the Islanders with 63 shots but he is shooting only 1.6%.

Palmieri’s lack of production is just part of a bigger problem for the inconsistent Islanders, who entered Tuesday with an NHL-low 102 goals.

There is a definite sense that time is running short to salvage this season.

"With every day that passes, you kind of get that feeling more and more," Matt Martin said. "We’ve been saying it for awhile we just have to take it day by day. But, yeah, with the way we started the season we don’t have a whole lot of room for error. So every loss seems a little worse and worse."

Linemate Casey Cizikas added the Islanders still have a strong belief they can turn it around.

"I think confidence is the biggest thing," Cizikas said. "As a group, when you go out there and play a full 60 (minutes) and you do what you have to do to help the team be successful then things just fall into place after that. It’s not easy to get to that point. You’ve got to battle for a lot of things."

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