UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Detroit Red Wings will be playing on short rest Saturday night. The New York Islanders might be playing with long memories.
The two teams will square off for the second straight Saturday when the Islanders host the Red Wings at Nassau Coliseum. It will be the New York’s third game at the Coliseum since it began splitting home contests between Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the Coliseum, where the franchise played from 1972 through the 2014-15 season.
Both teams are coming off losses. The Red Wings will be playing the second game of a back-to-back set after falling Friday night to the visiting Ottawa Senators, 4-2. The Islanders last played Wednesday, when they lost to the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 at Barclays Center.
However, there’s a pretty good chance the Islanders will be thinking more about their previous game against the Red Wings than the loss to the Golden Knights.
The Islanders (14-12-4) overcame a two-goal, first-period deficit to beat the Red Wings 3-2 at Little Caesars Arena on Dec. 8. The comeback was fueled after Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall delivered a blindside hit to New York captain Anders Lee, who needed eight stitches over his left eyebrow and lip to close his wounds.
Normally mild-mannered Islanders center Josh Bailey responded by crashing into Kronwall and fighting with center Dylan Larkin. Later in the game, 34-year-old New York defenseman Johnny Boychuk tussled with Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson.
Islanders head coach Barry Trotz told reporters he would leave any further actions up to his players, though he noted, “Players have long memories.” Lee seemed to back up that notion.
“We’re going to bring it like we always do, and if there needs to be a response or anything like that we’re ready to do it, as (they would) be,” Lee told reporters. “I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s going to carry over, but it was just a week ago, too, I guess.”
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said following Friday night’s game he wasn’t concerned with the possibility that the Islanders might be seeking further retribution.
“We’ve got to go win the hockey game. we can’t worry about anything else,” Blashill said. “If they want to worry about extracurricular stuff, then let them worry about it. We’ve got to win a hockey game. We had an opportunity here to win at home and we didn’t win it, so we’ve got to go find a way to win (Saturday).”
The Red Wings and Islanders have at least one thing in common: They’re both on the outside looking in on the Eastern Conference playoff picture and in need of a victory Saturday night. Detroit has lost five of seven (2-4-1) while New York has dropped six of eight (2-4-2).
Red Wings number one goalie Jimmy Howard started and took the loss Friday, when he made 28 saves, so backup Jonathan Bernier will likely be in net Saturday. Bernier last played Tuesday, when he took the loss and was chased after allowing five goals on just 15 shots over two periods as Detroit fell to the Washington Capitals 6-2.
The Islanders haven’t announced a starter yet, but Thomas Greiss would seem to be in line to start after Robin Lehner played the last two games. Greiss hasn’t played since he earned the win against Detroit by recording 23 saves.
Bernier is 4-5-3 in 12 career appearances against the Islanders. Greiss is 4-2-1 in nine games against the Red Wings.