The New York Islanders are on their way to costly victory in Detroit tonight.
Forwards Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas will not return after suffering lower and upper-body injuries respectively. Defenseman Johnny Boychuk also temporarily left the game after blocking a shot, though no word on whether or not he’ll return. If the Islanders hold on to their 3-1 lead, they will leapfrog Boston and Toronto into the final wildcard spot, should the Maple Leafs be held pointless in their game against the Jets.
This is the third-straight game that Clutterbuck has left early; he left early on January 26 before returning on February 3 in Detroit, where he also left early. In 44 games this season, Clutterbuck has three goals and 15 points. It’s been six seasons since he last cracked 30 points. Despite his low totals, he signed a five-year extension in early December worth $3.5MM per season.
Cizikas has 23 points in 52 games, and is on pace to set career-highs in all three offensive categories. The Islanders were already interested in solidifying their center depth, and losing their solid fourth line center for any length of time will be a tough loss.
While the two fourth liners have been declared done for the night, Boychuk returned to the ice after taking a Niklas Kronwall slap-shot off the ankle. The tough-as-nails defenseman has 21 points in 54 games so far this season in a top-four role.
The Islanders have won 10 of their last 16 games since Doug Weight took over as head coach, battling their way back into playoff contention. They are already without Travis Hamonic (lower-body injury), Shane Prince (upper-body injury), and Mikhail Grabovski (likely career-ending concussion issues) due to injuries.