Islanders opening road stretch has plenty of miles, intrigue

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The New York Islanders are getting a permanent home with the opening of UBS Arena in Elmont, New York, but they’ll have to wait until Nov. 20 before playing a game there.

That means the Islanders will begin this season with 13 straight games on the road, the longest in their 49-season history, beginning at the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, BSSO, MSG+, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

Their previous record for consecutive road games was nine from Feb. 21-March 11, 2017. They finished that stretch 5-3-1.

“It’ll be a challenge for sure, probably the longest trip most of us have had outside of the bubble (in Toronto and Edmonton during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs), which was just unique in itself,” center Brock Nelson said. “Maybe we’ll lean on that for some experience of what we’ve done in the past, but we have a tight-knit group, guys that can get together on days off, do some fun things, hang out, build some chemistry.

“We’ll take it one game, one day at a time, try to power through this and come out with a positive record on the other side.”

Here are 13 facts about the Islanders’ schedule to start the season:

By the numbers

The Vancouver Canucks own the NHL record for longest road trip, playing 14 straight away from home during the 2009-10 season (8-5-1), but New York’s stretch will be the longest to begin a season, passing the San Jose Sharks’ 12-game trip from last season (5-6-1).

Frequent flyer miles

When the Islanders return home after their game at the Florida Panthers on Nov. 16, they will have traveled nearly 16,000 miles (15,894) and will have completed 31.7 percent of their road schedule for the 2021-22 season.

Times are changing

New York will not have the same start time (in Eastern Standard Time) in consecutive games until they play the Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets on Nov. 4 and 6 (each at 7 p.m.).

Breaks in between

There will be some opportunities for the Islanders to sleep in their own beds during the road stretch. They could conceivably return home following their game at Florida on Saturday before visiting the Chicago Blackhawks the following Tuesday (Oct. 19). The Islanders also have a five-day break between their games at the Vegas Golden Knights on Oct. 24 and the Nashville Predators on Oct. 30. During the week of Nov. 8, New York only plays one game, against the New Jersey Devils on Nov. 11.

Captain comeback

The new season marks the return of forward Anders Lee, who is expected to play Thursday for the first time since March 11. Lee, the Islanders captain, missed the final two months of the regular season and the entire Stanley Cup Playoffs because of a knee injury.

Video: NHL Tonight on the impact of Anders Lee’s return

Weekend at Barry’s

Ten of the first 11 games for coach Barry Trotz and the Islanders will take place on Thursday, Saturday or Sunday. The lone game that does not will be Tuesday, Oct. 19, at the Blackhawks.

Familiar face

The Islanders will likely get reacquainted with forward Andrew Ladd when they visit the Arizona Coyotes on Oct. 23. Ladd, who signed a seven-year contract with New York on July 1, 2016, was traded to Arizona on July 17.

Border crossing

The Islanders played all their playoff games in 2020 in Canada, but they’ll play their first game against a Canadian team since March 10 of that year (at the Canucks) when they visit the Canadiens on Nov. 4 and the Jets two days later. It’s the only time New York will go north of the border during its trip.

What happens in Vegas, saves in Vegas

The Islanders could face Robin Lehner for the second time in three seasons when they visit the Golden Knights on Oct. 24. Lehner was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the best goalie in the NHL when he played for New York in 2018-19, but that offseason he signed a one-year contract with the Blackhawks. He hasn’t played against the Islanders since Dec. 27, 2019, when he made 38 saves for Chicago in a 5-2 win at United Center.

Trotz returns to Nashville

Trotz will always have a soft spot for the city of Nashville, where he started his NHL coaching career with the expansion Predators in 1998 and remained for 15 seasons. The Islanders visit the Predators on Oct. 30.

Welcome back, Zach

Forward Zach Parise will play against his hometown Minnesota Wild on Nov. 7 for the first time since they bought out the remaining four seasons of his 13-year, $98 million contract this offseason.

Kyle comes back, too

Kyle Palmieri will also return to a familiar setting when the Islanders visit the Devils on Nov. 11. It will be the forward’s first game at Prudential Center since April 2, five days before he was traded by New Jersey to New York. Palmieri scored at least 24 goals in five straight seasons for the Devils from 2015-20.

Hello again

The Islanders have lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the semifinal round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the past two seasons. New York will return to Amalie Arena on Nov. 15, its lone trip to Tampa Bay this season.

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