Comeback kids: Isles host Jets
NEW YORK — After making an emotional return to Nassau Coliseum Saturday night, the New York Islanders will have to adjust to playing in their second home Tuesday.
But the Islanders won’t be the only team at Barclays Center coming off an exhilarating and exhausting victory Tuesday night, when they host the Winnipeg Jets in the first game of the season between the two squads.
The Islanders, playing at their original home for the first time since the 2015 playoffs, came back from a two-goal deficit Saturday night to edge the Columbus Blue Jackets, 3-2. The Jets outdid that Sunday night, when they came back from a three-goal third-period deficit to beat the host New York Rangers, 4-3, in the shootout.
The Islanders (13-9-3) will alternate locales for each of their six home games this month, with the odd-numbered games being played at the Coliseum and the even-numbered games at Barclays Center. They will continue splitting games between the two arenas until late February, when they begin a season-ending stretch of 12 straight home games at the Coliseum.
The unusual arrangement is a best-of-a-bad situation between the Islanders and the building management group that runs both Barclays Center and the Nassau Coliseum, which is preparing to lose the Islanders as a tenant after the team announced plans late last year to build a hockey-specific arena at the Nassau/Queens border in time for the 2021-22 season.
The move back to the franchise’s roots was embraced by Islanders fans, who filled the 13,900-seat Coliseum to raucous capacity Saturday night. Afterward, head coach Barry Trotz acknowledged it will take some getting used to the sparse crowds and deadened atmosphere at Barclays, where the Islanders averaged just 10,447 fans — the lowest average attendance in the NHL — in their first 11 home dates.
“It’s going to be quite different, it’s going to be a little quieter, I know that,” Trotz said during a postgame press conference in which chants of “LET’S GO ISLANDERS!” echoed outside the room. “We’re going to have to be self-motivated.”
The Jets (15-8-2) are also a potential candidate for a letdown after they forced overtime by scoring three times in a span of a little more than 15 minutes in the third period before Mark Scheifele scored the decisive goal in the shootout.
“To be down 3-0 and keep going, right until the very end, (was) impressive,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said afterward.
It was the second frantic win in as many nights for Winnipeg, which opened a three-game road trip to New York-area locales by blowing a two-goal lead in the third period of a 4-3 overtime win over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. Maurice said he’s hopeful an off-day Monday will help recharge the Jets.
“We’re going to play three road games and stay in the same hotel,” Maurice said. “So it’s not your standard grinder road trip.”
Neither team has announced a starting goalie for Tuesday, though it is likely number one goalies Thomas Greiss and Connor Hellebuyck will be in net after earning the wins for the Islanders and Jets on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Greiss made 28 saves against the Blue Jackets and Hellebuyck recorded 16 saves against the Rangers.
Greiss is 4-1-1 in six career appearances against the Jets. Hellebuyck is 2-1-0 in three games against the Islanders.