The Islanders’ last two games were played to the extremes.
They set a season-high for goals in Tuesday night’s 8-2 win over the hapless Red Wings at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum. And, of course, they looked as bad as they’ve been all season in a 6-2 loss to the Rangers on Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
They still need to prove the balanced and timely scoring they got on Tuesday – particularly from their top-six forwards – can be the norm and that Monday’s debacle was an outlier.
The Islanders and Rangers meet again on Thursday night at the Coliseum for the second of three games in nine days.
“I think we’ve got to show what we are,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “We’ve got another level in our game and we should hopefully bring that Thursday.”
The Islanders did not practice on Wednesday after playing on back-to-back nights, so there was no update on whether invaluable fourth-line center Casey Cizikas would be available. Cizikas has missed two games after taking David Pastrnak’s power-play shot to the groin in Saturday night’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Bruins at Barclays Center.
Nor would Trotz hint at whether he would start Thomas Greiss, who made 34 saves against the Red Wings, or Semyon Varlamov, who was mercifully pulled in the third period of Monday’s loss after allowing six goals on 35 shots.
“There’s always a might,” Trotz said of possibly giving Greiss back-to-back starts for just the second time this season. “Am I going to tell you? Not a chance.”
Rangers coach David Quinn ended any suspense with his atypical three-goalie rotation in announcing on Wednesday that Alexandar Georgiev would again start against the Islanders. Georgiev made 32 saves on Monday and is 3-1-0 with a 1.21 goals-against average, a .957 save percentage and one shutout against the Islanders.
But the Islanders were not nearly as dangerous as they needed to be around Georgiev’s crease on Monday after Jordan Eberle, who has three of his six goals this season over the last four games, opened the scoring 18 seconds into the first period.
“Each game as the season goes on gets bigger and bigger,” said Josh Bailey, who scored his ninth goal of the season on Tuesday and first in 16 games. “Thursday will be no different. So, we’ve got a chance to get them back here at home. I think we’ll be looking forward to it.”
Anthony Beauvillier snapped a 13-game goalless drought on Tuesday.
The game will mark the Rangers' first at the Coliseum since March 10, 2015.
“It’ll be a big game playing these guys, their first time back at the Coli,” said Brock Nelson, who had two goals on Tuesday. “Playing them so many times in a short span, you remember we didn’t play our best and they handed it to us. You kind of hang on to that one and, hopefully, use that as fuel even though you probably shouldn’t need it. I think it just adds to it.”