Islanders lastly beginning to really feel at dwelling at UBS Area


Josh Bailey scored, and so the music echoed round UBS Area. 

“Heeeey, Josh Bailey. I want to knoooooow, if you’ll score a goal.” 

It wasn’t the primary rendition this yr. Nevertheless it was the loudest and longest. And the refrain of 17,255 mirrored a sense contained in the constructing in the course of the Islanders’ 3-2 win Thursday over the Devils, that the brand new barn is lastly beginning to really feel like dwelling. 

It took three weeks after the Nov. 20 opening for the Islanders to report a win at dwelling, a stretch through which they suffered an 11-game dropping streak and a COVID-19 outbreak. Bailey, for a lot of it, was caught in Florida after testing optimistic for the coronavirus. When they need to have been getting used to a brand new routine, a brand new locker room and a brand new ice floor, all the Islanders’ routines have been upended. 

“It took maybe a couple games for it to truly feel like home,” Bailey stated Thursday. “But since then, it’s been smooth sailing.” 

The Islanders rejoice Josh Bailey’s purpose towards the Devils.
Robert Sabo

And after going 0-7 over the primary three weeks at their new dwelling, the Islanders have earned factors in each recreation they’ve performed at UBS Area since a 4-2 win over the Devils on Dec. 11. That’s solely six dwelling video games as a result of COVID has forced the Islanders to postpone eight games since Dec. 20, however there was a marked distinction of their play nonetheless. 

“The building is different but the people are the same,” Cal Clutterbuck stated after apply Friday. “They’re making the same noise. It was a little bit unfortunate the way we had to start things in that building. And I think it took us a little while to get it going. But it has nothing to do with the fans or the building. I think it has to do with the circumstances we were under and us trying to figure out what we needed to do to win.” 

The Islanders do appear to have one thing discovered, reaching deep to recuperate from a gut-punch penalty that led to the Devils tying Thursday’s match at two within the third interval. 

Now, with nine of their next 10 games at home, it’s on the Islanders to maintain the place rocking. 

“I think with three games in 25 days, no excuse not to go in there and win every night,” Clutterbuck stated. 

Josh Bailey (right) celebrates after scoring against the Devils.
Josh Bailey (proper) celebrates after scoring towards the Devils.
Robert Sabo

Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Sebastian Aho have been again at apply on Friday after lacking the sport Thursday as a result of their wives had given start. 

“This was amazing,” Pageau stated. “Our first one, our little boy. Everything went well and my wife is doing well.” 

The Islanders will face a well-recognized problem on Saturday once they play Alexander Ovechkin for the primary time this yr. Their penalty kill held the Capitals celebrity to only one purpose in 4 video games final yr, and 12 of Ovechkin’s all-time finest 275 power-play targets have been towards the Islanders. 

Alex Ovechkin
The Islanders face Alex Ovechkin for the primary time this season on Saturday.
USA TODAY Sports activities

“Don’t let him shoot from that spot [on the half-wall],” appearing coach Lane Lambert stated. “We’ve, again, been killing against them now for quite some time here. We have a plan in place.” 

Lambert stated he had not been informed when head coach Barry Trotz will return from COVID protocol. Trotz entered protocol on Tuesday, making Monday’s recreation towards the Flyers the primary recreation he’d be eligible to educate if he’s asymptomatic and clears protocol. 

Ross Johnston was suspended for 3 video games and fined $15,000 by the NHL’s Division of Participant Security for an unlawful examine to the top on A.J. Greer on Thursday. Devils coach Lindy Ruff informed reporters that Greer will miss “serious time” following the hit.

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