For the first time in the first round, Bo Horvat has been able to answer questions about his play with an optimistic sheen going into Game 6 on Friday against the Hurricanes.
Horvat got on the scoresheet in the Islanders’ Game 5 victory Tuesday with a four-on-four assist to Mathew Barzal and, after a quiet-at-best first four games, looked and felt a little more like himself.
“Maybe hanging onto the puck a little more,” Horvat said, asked if he’d made any adjustments. “I think it was just a matter of making the one play and obviously getting an assist on that play. Just a matter of it going in. I feel like I was making those plays, and it wasn’t happening the first four games.”
After the Islanders split up Horvat and Barzal late in Game 5, the two were back together on the top line during practice Thursday.
Horvat’s scoring touch — he’s netted just one goal in the series and that came late in a Game 3 blowout victory — is still something the Islanders would like to see return.
At five-on-five, he has just seven shots on net and two individual high-danger chances against Carolina, per Natural Stat Trick.
Much as everything else was improved in Game 5, that is still a looming question mark, though he’s hoping Tuesday will be a springboard as the Islanders look to pull off a comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the series.
“You’re trying to help your team in any way you can, and obviously getting on the scoresheet last game definitely helped,” Horvat said. “I think I was making a little bit more plays and creating a little bit more space. Just continue to keep doing that.”
The Islanders refused to let reporters watch them practice the power play on Thursday, getting their special teams work in prior to the announced start time of practice, before they were required to let beat writers into the rink.
The organization has become increasingly sensitive regarding its power play, which finished the regular season ranked 30th in the league and has scored just once in 15 chances during the playoffs.
Coach Lane Lambert refused to discuss any potential tweaks ahead of Game 6.
“We continue to work on solutions to get the power play going,” Lambert said. “We know it has to be better.”
Though Carolina did not announce a starter in goal for Game 6, Frederik Andersen was in his own net at Hurricanes practice while Antti Raanta and Pyotr Kochetkov shared the other, per reporters in Raleigh. … Carolina’s Jack Drury (upper body) will not travel to New York for Game 6.