The islanders are not out of the COVID-19 forest yet. Or, for that matter, the injury forest.
Joining the six who have already tested positive for the virus, Kieffer Bellows added another hit to the Islands lineup, but the team got some good news. Anthony Beauvillier’s test that kept him out of Saturday’s race was a false positive.
All the positives of Beauvillier’s return to the lineup were erased in Sunday’s second period when Brock Nelson failed to return to the bench. He missed the remainder of the 3-0 loss to the Maple Leafs with what coach Barry Trotz called a lower body injury.
Josh Bailey, Anders Lee, Ross Johnston, Adam Pelech and Andy Greene are all on protocol, the latter two coming in after Saturday’s test results. Ryan Pulock is also out for four to six weeks with an injury. So Bellows’ positive test and Nelson’s injury have left eight players out, six of which will require consecutive negative tests to return.
Nelson leads the Islanders in goals with nine.
“I have been asked several times in private, have you ever experienced this in all the years that you have been in the profession? It’s without thinking, no,” general manager Lou Lamoriello said before the game. “And what you’re doing is just making sure you stay calm about it, looking at all the options you may have and only focusing on the things you can control.
“The NHL decides whether the game is played or not, so we don’t participate in it… They have an overview of the number of players we have, so I trust that they make the right decision regarding the game [being] played or not played.”
Since Beauvillier returned, the team no longer had to call from Bridgeport. Earlier in the day, it was thought that Anatoli Golyshev, who had been removed from the AHL squad, could play for the Islanders on Sunday night, but the false positive made that unnecessary.
The Islanders finally broke a dry spell on power play Saturday, with Nelson getting them on the board for the first time in the month of November at five-on-four. But that success had as much to do with the six tries Calgary gave the Islanders as it did with anything else, and the team failed to convert on three power play attempts against Toronto.
The Maple Leafs also scored a shorthanded goal – the Isles’ third goal this season. On the plus side, the penalty kill was clinical, denying Toronto the clean zone on each of their three attempts at the man advantage.
But when the islands themselves started the power play, they got nothing going.
“Often it’s execution and effort,” Trotz said. “And if one of those two things doesn’t work, you’re going to get bad results. … Tonight we didn’t generate much, we didn’t have the execution.”
Josh Bailey will remain in Florida after testing positive last week when the team was out there.