Islanders continue transition under Trotz vs. Sharks
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NEW YORK -- The season is just two games old, but it has already been a transitional one for the New York Islanders and their new head coach, Barry Trotz.
The adaptation process will continue Monday afternoon, when Robin Lehner makes his first start for the Islanders in a Columbus Day matinee against the San Jose Sharks at Barclays Center.
It will be the third game of the season for both teams. The Islanders dropped their home opener Saturday, when they fell to the Nashville Predators, 4-3.
The Sharks last played Friday, when they earned a 3-2 overtime win over the host Los Angeles Kings.
The narrow defeat for the Islanders on Saturday left Trotz -- who coached the Washington Capitals to the team's first Stanley Cup last spring -- in the unfamiliar position of trying to find positives in a loss.
New York, which allowed the most goals in the NHL last season (296) and lost star John Tavares to the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent in July, followed up a 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday by keeping the Western Conference powerhouse Predators off the scoreboard in the third period.
"I thought we had some pretty good stretches," Trotz told reporters afterward. "Our overall game, I thought we were pretty good. I thought we handled their speed well. I thought we managed the puck a lot better than we did in Carolina."
The Sharks also felt good about themselves following the adjustments they made against the Kings, whom they limited to one goal over the final two periods and overtime while getting their first win when New York native Kevin Labanc scored 2:54 into the extra period.
"I thought the third period we really pressed, and I thought we were the better team in the third," said Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer, whose squad outshot the Kings 12-5 in the third period and overtime. "The guys played as if we needed to win this game and we found a way to do it."
Trotz said following practice Sunday that Lehner, who signed with the Islanders in July following three seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, would draw the start Monday. It will be the first regular season game for Lehner since he entered alcohol rehab and began receiving treatment for bipolar disorder last spring.
"I feel I'm ready to play," Lehner told reporters Sunday. "There are still a few things we're working on. We're changing a few things I've been doing my whole life. That's not an overnight thing."
Lehner is 0-4-0 in four career appearances against the Sharks.
Martin Jones is likely to draw his third straight start for the Sharks. Jones is 1-0-0 in two career games against the Islanders.
The Sharks will be without veteran center Joe Thornton, who was placed on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury Sunday. To replace Thornton on the active roster, San Jose recalled center Dylan Gambrell from its AHL affiliate.
The Islanders will be hosting a Western Conference foe on Columbus Day afternoon for the third time in four seasons since moving to Barclays Center. New York suffered a 3-2 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues last season and beat the Winnipeg Jets, 4-2, in 2015.
Updated October 7, 2018