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Robin Lehner

Mar 7, 2019; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save in the second period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)
Mar 7, 2019; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save in the second period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)

The New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens both improved their precarious positions in the Eastern Conference playoff race with wins in their most recent games.

But the work has just begun for the two teams, who will face off in another pivotal game Thursday night, when New York hosts Montreal at Nassau Coliseum.

The Islanders (40-22-7, 87 points) have been off since Monday, when they beat the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets, 2-0. The Canadiens (37-26-7, 81) last played Tuesday, when they hosted and edged the Detroit Red Wings, 3-1.

Tags: Anders Lee, Montreal Canadiens, Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss
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Mar 5, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) is pushed over New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) by New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Mar 5, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) is pushed over New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) by New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Islanders goaltender Robin Lehner returned to practice Wednesday, eight days after being bowled over by Ottawa's Brady Tkachuk. Lehner, who missed the last three games with an upper-body injury, is a "possibility" to return to goal against the Canadiens Thursday night at the Coliseum, Barry Trotz told reporters.

Trotz had to speak with Lehner and the training staff before making a decision. If Lehner doesn't return Thursday, he could return during the Islanders' weekend back-to-back at Detroit and Minnesota.

Tags: Christopher Gibson, Johnny Boychuk, Montreal Canadiens, Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss
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Mar 5, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) celebrates his goal against the Ottawa Senators with teammates during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Mar 5, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) celebrates his goal against the Ottawa Senators with teammates during the first period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

This Islanders season has already been far better than anyone within or outside the organization could have imagined. In the wake of John Tavares' departure, the Isles have bought into Barry Trotz's style and Lou Lamoriello's shrewd signing of Robin Lehner has paid major dividends. Lehner appears to be in a good place after battling substance addiction and a bipolar diagnosis, and he's been stellar on the ice as part of a goaltending duo with Thomas Greiss.

Lamoriello made the controversial decision not to make any acquisitions at the NHL trade deadline, and it wasn't looking like a smart move when the Isles went through some recent stumbles. The Isles rebounded with two straight wins against the basement-dwelling Senators, putting them back in a tie with Washington for the Metropolitan Division lead and eight points clear of ninth place in the Eastern Conference. But Trotz conceded after Thursday's win that his team is "still scuffling a little bit."

There's plenty of work to do over the final month of the regular season if the Islanders want to secure a playoff berth for the first time since 2015-16, and they'll have to step their game up against better competition.

Tags: Jordan Eberle, Josh Ho-Sang, Mathew Barzal, Michael dal Colle, Nick Leddy, Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss
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Mar 5, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) stops a shot by Ottawa Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot (72) during the shootout at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Mar 5, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) stops a shot by Ottawa Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot (72) during the shootout at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Both the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators got what they wanted out of their game against each other Tuesday night. But each team will be looking for even more Thursday night, when Ottawa hosts New York in the back end of a home-and-home set.

The Islanders earned a 5-4 shootout win at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday, when they squandered a two-goal third-period lead and survived an injury to starting goalie Robin Lehner but escaped with the victory after Jordan Eberle and Mathew Barzal scored on the team's only attempts in the shootout.

Tags: Jordan Eberle, Mathew Barzal, Ottawa Senators, Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss
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Mar 5, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) is pushed over New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) by New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Mar 5, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) is pushed over New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) by New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

In a sign that Robin Lehner won't be healthy for Thursday's game after being run over Tuesday night by Ottawa's Brady Tkachuk, the Islanders recalled goalie Christopher Gibson from AHL Bridgeport on an emergency basis.

Lehner, who's been a steal on a one-year, $1.5 million deal, left Tuesday's shootout win late in the third period and was replaced by Thomas Greiss. Lehner ostensibly has a head injury but the Islanders had no update on Lehner's status on Wednesday, according to Newsday.

Tags: Christopher Gibson, Robin Lehner, Thomas Greiss
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Mar 5, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) is pushed over New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) by New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Mar 5, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) is pushed over New York Islanders goalie Robin Lehner (40) by New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) during the third period at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The slumping Islanders edged out the Senators for a shootout victory on Tuesday, but it may have come at a cost. 

Islanders starting goalie Robin Lehner had to leave the game late in the third period after Ottawa's Brady Tkachuk bulldozed over him on a controversial game-tying goal. 

Lehner skated off the ice on his own but was presumed to be undergoing tests for a concussion, per Brett Cyrgalis of The Post. 

Tags: Brock Nelson, Robin Lehner
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Mar 3, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz yells during the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)
Mar 3, 2019; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz yells during the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Schneidler)

With the Islanders badly needing a win after losing their lead in the Metropolitan Division, their lineup is completely up in the air thanks to a flu bug that is running through their locker room. The only thing that seems certain for the Isles' home game against Ottawa is that Robin Lehner will start in goal.

"Sickness hit us on Sunday. We had some guys that had to go to the locker room. Quite frankly I don't even know the lineup right now," Barry Trotz said, per the team's Twitter account. "We've got a plethora of things going on. I probably won't know our lineup until game time tonight."

Tags: Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas, Josh Ho-Sang, Matt Martin, Michael dal Colle, Robin Lehner
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