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Adam Pelech’s absence felt in Islanders’ Game 6 loss

The Islanders wouldn’t have gotten as far as they did in these playoffs without Adam Pelech, so it wasn’t surprising when they couldn’t keep their season alive without him.

Pelech was scratched before the 2-1 overtime loss in Game 6 to the Lightning on Thursday night, which ultimately ended the Islanders season. The Fourth Period reported that Pelech suffered a broken wrist in Game 5, and head coach Barry Trotz confirmed that surgery would be needed.

“He got hurt real early in the last game, he played on adrenaline, got through it, and there was no way he could play [Thursday],” Trotz said. “And there’s going to be surgery involved.”

The Islanders thought they’d be without Pelech for the remainder of the season, after he underwent Achilles surgery in January. But the 26-year-old defenseman was able to recover in time for the delayed playoffs due to the NHL’s three-month pause resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

Pelech stepped right back into his usual duties seamlessly, and the Isles suddenly had the same look they had during their franchise-record 16-game point streak at the beginning of the regular season. But now it appears Pelech will have to recover from a second surgery in as many years.

Adam Pelech
Adam PelechNHLI via Getty Images

Trotz opted to insert Noah Dobson into the lineup as the seventh defenseman in Pelech’s absence. The 20-year-old Dobson held his own in his playoff debut, aside from a couple rough shifts, but the Islanders did not have the same defensive edge they usually do with Pelech on the top defensive pairing.

Dobson finished the Game 6 loss with two shots and three hits, including two giveaways, on 17 shifts and 12:55 of ice time.

“I think Noah stepped in a very difficult situation there and produced really well, and it’s what we expect from him. He’s a great player,” Devon Toews said. “You look at the [defensive] depth we have all the way through, anybody can step in and produce for us and contribute. We’ve needed those guys throughout this run, just to lose Pelly there kind of hurts a little bit.

“We had that next-man-up mentality throughout this whole playoffs, and we had guys contribute, and it’s great to see that.”

Cal Clutterbuck recorded a team-high 12 hits, tying both a franchise record, which Matt Martin set in Game 6 against the Flyers, and the most in the bubble, joining Martin and Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog.

Brayden Point was a game-time decision for Tampa Bay and ended up playing. The Islanders were 2-0 against the Lightning without Point in their lineup, but 0-4 while facing him. Point accumulated seven points (three goals, four assists) in four games against the Islanders.

“Not a lot [changes when Point is on the ice],” Trotz said prior to Game 6. “Obviously, you want to get your best people against Point. He’s a great player. But they have [Ondrej] Palat and [Nikita] Kucherov. … It doesn’t change a whole heck of a lot other than Brayden Point is an elite player.”

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