UBS Arena was built to make money, of course, and to give Islanders fans and players a nice, new rink to call their own.
But naturally, it would be a bonus for all concerned if the new barn provided the sort of home-ice edge for which Nassau Coliseum was known in its “Fort Neverlose” glory days.
In its earliest weeks, that did not go so well. The Islanders christened UBS on Nov. 20 with a COVID-19-ravaged lineup that lost to the Flames, 5-2, and went 0-5-2 in their first seven games there.
That was not in the blueprints for the $1.1-billion facility.
Things have improved since, though, and not a moment too soon given the Islanders’ deep hole in the standings and the fact their schedule now is loaded with home games as they try to make up ground.
Thursday night’s 3-2 victory over the visiting Devils improved their record at home to 5-0-1 in their last six.
They will try to keep that streak going against the Capitals on Saturday and beyond. Nine of their next 10 games currently are scheduled for UBS Arena, part of a larger stretch of 14 of 15 and 16 of 18 at home.
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The Islanders’ acclimation process was discombobulated – along with everything else about their season – by COVID complications.
Their longest-termed player, Josh Bailey, missed the first four games at UBS and was quarantined in a Florida hotel room on opening night.
“It took maybe a couple of games for it to truly feel like home, but since then it’s been smooth sailing,” he said.
Among other good signs, the Islanders have scored a power-play goal at home in eight consecutive games – their longest such streak in a single season since 1996.
“I’ve said this before: The building is different, but the people are the same,” Cal Clutterbuck said. “They’re making the same noise. It was a little bit unfortunate the way that we had to start things in that building, and I think it took us a little while to kind of get it going.
“But I think it has nothing to do with the fans or the building. It just has to do with the circumstances we were under and us trying to figure out what we needed to do to win with guys being out and the uncertainty of it.”
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