The Islanders picked up a fourth line on Thursday, but they may have lost another.
Casey Cizikas left the game in the third period and then went to the locker room after taking a shoulder to the head following a face-off in the defensive zone. Islanders coach Lane Lambert did not give an update on his status after the game and said he was unsure if Cizikas was pulled due to a concussion spotter’s intervention .
“I was just told he came off the bench,” Lambert said after the 2-0 loss to the Coyotes. “I have no idea. I was busy at the time.”
Cizikas has been one of the Islanders’ top penalty killers this year and piloted the fourth line to a rebounding season after struggling in 2021-22.
The good news for the group, however, is that Cal Clutterbuck returned after missing Tuesday’s game against the Rangers, going 12:57 and throwing three hits against Arizona.
“It’s nothing serious,” Clutterbuck said after the morning practice. “I’m fine.”
Clutterbuck left Monday’s game after skating just 3:32 and did not return. Lambert issued no injury update other than saying the decision on Clutterbuck sitting Tuesday was close to game time against Rangers, as has become the organizational modus operandi with injuries.
The maintenance day Clutterbuck took instead of practice last Friday in Detroit could become something of a normal, as he said the problem may persist.
“It’ll be with me all season long,” Clutterbuck said. “But that shouldn’t be a problem.”
While he may have dealt with something before Monday, it clearly didn’t affect his ability to play his favorite game. Clutterbuck’s 53 hits heading into Thursday ranked third in the league, behind only Vancouver’s Luke Schenn and Washington’s Garnet Hathaway.
Thursday was Game 3 of a 14-game road trip for Arizona, tying the league record with the 2009-10 Canucks for longest road trip. The Islanders started last season on a 13-game road trip as they waited for UBS Arena to be ready, going 5-6-2.
“I chose not to even remember it,” Lambert, the associate head coach at the time, joked of the five-week trip.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau was 18-5 in the face-off circle Thursday. Brock Nelson won 14 of 19 draws.