Zach Parise recently assured his New York Islanders teammates he’s a second-half player.
He might not be the only one.
The Islanders will look to continue surging when they host the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday in Elmont, N.Y. It’s the first game between the teams in almost two years.
Thehost Islanders overcame an early two-goal deficit Tuesday night, when Parise snapped the final tie with the game-winning goal 11:51 into the third period of a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Kings have been off since Monday, when they continued their longest road trip of the season by dropping a 3-2 decision in a shootout to the New York Rangers.
The goal was the second in as many games for Parise, who had just one goal in the first 33 games of the season. Following the win, he grinned when asked about the locker-room declaration.
“It’s not as if I came into the room and told everyone I was a second-half player,” Parise said. “I was just trying to make light of the situation. Hopefully, I’ll be heating up here in the near future.”
The Islanders have been heating up for almost two months. New York lost 11 straight while dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak from Nov. 7 through Dec. 5 but is 10-4-1 since then, a span in which the team hasn’t lost back-to-back games.
The extended stretch of solid play has lifted the Islanders into sixth place in the Metropolitan Division. They entered Wednesday’s games 14 points behind the Boston Bruins, who currently occupy the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.
New York, which has played an NHL-low 35 games, has four games in hand on the Bruins.
“It feels great to contribute,” Parise said. “Most importantly, we got the two points that we really needed to get for us to keep pulling.”
The two points at stake Thursday also will be vital for the Kings, who have lost four of five (1-3-1) following a four-game winning streak. Los Angeles entered Wednesday in third place in the Pacific Division, four points ahead of the Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks and one point behind the second-place Anaheim Ducks.
The Kings are in seventh place in the conference.
The shootout loss Monday at least gave the Kings a third point in two games at the start of their six-game Eastern Conference road swing, which began Sunday with a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils.
“Yeah, three out of four is OK — I guess if it was the other way around, we got one yesterday and two today, I would have been a little bit more happy sitting (at his post-game press conference),” Kings center Anze Kopitar said Monday night. “But in the grand scheme of things, if we’re going to go three out of four the rest of the trip, it’s going to be a pretty good trip.”
The Islanders and Kings didn’t play last season, when regular-season play consisted entirely of divisional games. The teams most recently met on Feb. 6, 2020, when Kieffer Bellows scored the tie-breaking goal with 7:50 remaining in the third period of New York’s 5-3 win in Brooklyn, N.Y.
–Field Level Media