The Islanders got one fourth-liner back on Thursday, but they may have lost another.
Casey Cizikas exited the game in the third period and later went to the locker room after taking a shoulder to the head following a defensive-zone faceoff. Islanders coach Lane Lambert did not give an update on his status following the game, and said he didn’t know whether Cizikas had been pulled due to an intervention from the concussion spotter.
“I was just told he left the bench,” Lambert said following the 2-0 loss to the Coyotes. “I have no idea. I was busy at the time.”
Cizikas has been one of the Islanders’ best penalty killers this year, and has been piloting the fourth line to a bounce-back season after it struggled in 2021-22.
The good news for the group, though, was that Cal Clutterbuck returned after missing Tuesday’s match against the Rangers, playing 12:57 and throwing three hits against Arizona.
“It’s nothing serious,” Clutterbuck said following morning skate. “I’m good.”
Clutterbuck left Monday’s game after skating just 3:32 and did not return. Lambert did not issue any updates on the injury besides saying that the decision on Clutterbuck sitting Tuesday ran close to game-time against the Rangers, as has become the organizational modus operandi with injuries.
The maintenance day Clutterbuck took in lieu of practice last Friday in Detroit could become something of a normality, as he said the issue may linger.
“It will be with me through the season,” Clutterbuck said. “But it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Although he may have been dealing with something prior to Monday, it clearly didn’t affect his ability to play his preferred game. Clutterbuck’s 53 hits going into Thursday ranked third in the league, behind only Vancouver’s Luke Schenn and Washington’s Garnet Hathaway.
Thursday was game three of a 14-game road trip for Arizona, tying the league record with the 2009-10 Canucks for the longest trip. The Islanders started last season with a 13-game trip as they waited for UBS Arena to be ready, going 5-6-2.
“I choose not to even remember that,” Lambert, the associate head coach at the time, joked of the five-week trip.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau was 18-5 in the faceoff circle on Thursday. Brock Nelson won 14 of 19 draws.