For the first time since Opening Night versus the Buffalo Sabres, the New York Islanders dressed their top-six defenseman. It only stayed that way for a few minutes and they entered the dressing room after the first period up two goals, but down another defenseman as Adam Pelech left the game and didn't return after colliding with Washington Capitals forward Aliaksei Protas.
Mayfield had an assist and logged 21:21 in his return as the Isles played down a defenseman for the final two periods. “I liked this game," Head Coach Lane Lambert said of Mayfield. "I thought he was very good. He was solid defensively and I thought it was great in the penalty kill."
We don't know the extent of Pelech's injury and there was no update on his status after the game. He was seen holding his right side as he left the ice, but because this is the NHL, it's unlikely we'll get clarity on the injury and a timetable when the team is next asked about it.
If Pelech misses time, it means that 23-year-old defenseman Samuel Bolduc would draw back into the lineup. Bolduc's game was better in his most recent game, but Lane Lambert was limiting his minutes, meaning heavier workloads for the rest of the defense. For example, Noah Dobson played 26:31 last night and has played at least 25 minutes in each of the last five games. No Islander defenseman has played more than 25 minutes a game for five straight since Travis Hamonic in 2016.
The Islanders have struggled without Pelech in the lineup. Last season, he missed 21 games after sustaining an upper-body injury in early December. The team was 16-11-0 when he left that game and were 23-20-5 when he returned, a record of 7-9-5.
The silver lining was Mayfield's return. If he hadn't been back, the Isles would have had to play Bolduc significant minutes last night and if they were down multiple defensemen, would have had to dip into Bridgeport to promote either Robin Salo or Dennis Cholowski.
The Isles were were outshot 32-21 in last night's 3-0 win and out-attempted 84-42. It will be hard for them to reverse these numbers and not rely as much on their goaltending if Pelech is out for any signfiicant length of time.