A flash the Islanders hope can be a harbinger came 11:18 into the first period of an otherwise dull preseason loss.
With the Islanders on the power play, Arnaud Durandeau’s pass came off the end boards and onto the stick of William Dufour at the right post.
Dufour quickly slotted home the goal, the scoresheet giving the first assist to Durandeau and the second to Matt Maggio.
All three of the young forwards are trying — against the odds — to make the Islanders’ roster out of training camp.
A 4-2 loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden represented a chance to improve their standing.
Even after a game when they got on the scoresheet, though, Isles coach Lane Lambert was not about to anoint any of the youngsters to a higher station.
“I don’t necessarily know if you could say [they] changed my mind, really,” Lambert said after the loss, which also featured a third-period goal from Durandeau. “It’s time to see what happens when we play against a different organization. There was some good things done by those guys and certainly, there’s some areas that we need to teach and correct and help with.”
For Maggio, Tuesday was his first time officially suiting up in an Islanders game.
For Dufour and Durandeau, who both made their NHL debuts last season, Tuesday was a chance to lay down a marker in the fight for a roster spot.
“This summer, sometimes when I’d wake up in the morning and don’t want to go to workouts, I was just thinking in my mind, ‘You want to be in the NHL, you need to get the small details to make the roster this year,’” Dufour said Monday. “I’m working hard to make the roster.”
Afterwards, Dufour gave a circumspect evaluation of his night, which featured 16:53 playing on the nominal top line with Brock Nelson and Pierre Engvall.
“Offensively, we were good today,” he said. “A couple details defensively, but I think in general, we’re gonna build on all the small details and we’re gonna be better next time. Pretty good game today, so I’m happy.”
Durandeau, whose goal came at 12:30 of the third period when he finished Hudson Fasching’s feed to the right post, is the oldest of the prospects pushing for a spot, and has the most NHL experience, with a four-game call-up that went down as a success last year.
“It’s time for me to take the next step and show that I can play here,” Durandeau said Monday. “I think last year I got a little taste of it. This year, I want to stay longer and make the team or be the first call-up and play as many games as I can. And hopefully get a spot on the team.”
Maggio, in his first year out of juniors, has impressed in training camp and mostly made an impression via his toughness on Tuesday.
He returned to the game after a knee-on-knee hit by Vincent Trocheck and sported a cut across his nose in the dressing room that he said was picked up early on.
“There’s a bit of a transition period where you’re kinda just trying to get used to the pace of the play,” Maggio said. “It’s been good baby steps, kinda transitioning into the highest level. So I feel good with the pace of play, I don’t feel like it’s overwhelming or anything like that.”
Call it a solid first impression. But to make a run at the roster, they will need more than that.
“It’s different from the AHL,” Durandeau said. “The speed, the play, the players you play with, play against. And I think you just gotta learn.
“And that’s the best way to learn, playing preseason games.”