TORONTO — Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock, back in the fold for the Islanders.
Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock, back on a pair together again.
And all was right in the Islanders’ world.
Monday’s 3-2 win over the Maple Leafs was just the ninth time this season — and the first time since Nov. 24 — that the Islanders started the night with a completely healthy defense corps.
And it was the first time since Game 6 of last year’s playoffs against the Hurricanes that Pelech and Pulock skated together on a pair, with Pelech having returned from a presumed head injury and Pulock from a lower-body ailment.
If anything was needed for a team whose defense has been sorely lacking all season, it was just that.
“It was good,” Pulock said. “I think after being out that long, that first period was tough. Just pace and stuff, getting back in it. I tried keeping it simple. Tried to take short shifts. Obviously, I thought we played a pretty good game.”
Islanders coach Patrick Roy was less reserved after both returnees put in a little over 20 minutes of ice time that did not look particularly rusty.
“Wow, what a performance for those two guys,” Roy said. “They were rock-solid and they were controlling the game. Obviously I didn’t know Pulock that much, but was pretty impressed by his performance tonight. He’s a really good defenseman. Obviously he’s gonna help us a lot.”
It’s been a long time since Pelech and Pulock played together regularly on a pair, thanks in part to injuries they’ve both dealt with over the past few seasons, and to Alexander Romanov and Noah Dobson not immediately clicking at the start of 2022-23.
Those factors had combined to necessitate a breakup of what had once been one of the NHL’s best pairs.
But Romanov and Dobson have found enough chemistry with each other to be the Islanders’ top pair since they’ve been put together this season.
And Pelech and Pulock are both healthy now.
If that remains the case, it looks like the path is clear for them to be together and stay together.
After scoring his first NHL goal in the second period, Kyle MacLean got to share the moment with his dad, John, on the bench.
“Happened pretty quick. I blacked out almost,” MacLean said. “It’s definitely cool seeing it cross the line and realizing I scored. So it was special.”
Casey Cizikas (lower body) made the trip to Toronto and skated with the group Monday morning, wearing a non-contact jersey.
Monday was Bo Horvat’s 700th NHL game.