With six goals in his last six games with Bridgeport and Mathew Barzal week-to-week with a lower-body injury, Durandeau was recalled by the organization on Sunday evening and suited up for his first game, as he was thrown into the fire against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who the Islanders are neck and neck with (amongst five other teams) in the wild-card race.
Durandeau logged 14:09 minutes in his debut, 12:39 at even strength on the third line with Casey Cizikas and Hudson Fasching, and the remaining 1:30 on the second power-play unit.
He finished his night with four shots on goal, two hits, one block, one breakaway, drew two penalties, and was on the ice for Bo Horvat’s tying goal in the third.
“I played with Fasching a lot at the start of the season (in Bridgeport). We were a line, me, Otto (Koivula), and Fasching,” Durandeau said. “So I know how he plays. He works hard, and Cizikas does as well. He’s a veteran. I know how he plays, and I think that complements my game a lot I can. I can play the same way as them and bring some offense and some speed, and hopefully, we can have a good game tonight.”
As for what Lambert saw:
“I saw some speed. The puck kind of follows him around, and it’s not necessarily by accident. I thought he played well. I saw a lot of good things.”
NYI Hockey Now caught up with rookie Arnaud Durandeau following Wednesday’s morning skate:
For some, it takes a few days for that first NHL game to truly sink in. But for Durandeau, the focus is on earning the right to keep playing.
“It was a couple of days ago, but I’m super, super grateful to be here,” Durandeau said. “Amazing experience. My family got to get there. So lots of fun, and hopefully, I can play a lot more games.”
Durandeau was preparing to head to Pennsylvania on Sunday but not to join the Islanders as Bridgeport was gearing up for a matchup with the Wiks-Barrie/Scranton Penguins.
Just a slight GPS change.
“I was ready to go to Wilkes Barre for a three-in-three. So it was a little bit of a change for me,” Durandeau said. “I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time, and it’s a dream come true to get called up. So super excited.”
Durandeau took seven shifts in the first period Monday, which allowed him to settle in a bit.
“First couple shifts, a little nervous, you know?” Durandeau said. “So I think just maybe in the second period, I felt more like myself, and it’s just hockey. Maybe a little more fast, maybe better players, but just hockey.
“I think I can play with these guys.”
Although Lambert wasn’t too vocal to Durandeau during the game or after, the Quebec native spoke with assistant coach John MacLean every time he got to the bench.
“The coach has been great. John MacLean, as well, the offensive coach…every time I got to the bench, if there was something bad or something good, he’d let me know. So I think that helps a lot,” Durandeau said.
As for what the message was from the coaching staff following his debut, there wasn’t too much said.
“Not too much. It’s just hockey,” Durandeau said. “I just wanted to keep it simple, use my speed, and I think I had a good game in my first game, so I just want to bring it into my second game.”
Not only was his first game a win, but a critical one in which the Islanders came back.
“Yeah, it’s it was a huge way to come back. Come back from behind, and I think every game is important until the end of the season,” Durandeau said. “I’m a call-up, but I want to help the team as much as I can, and tonight’s a big game.”
The New York Islanders host the Winnipeg Jets Wednesday night at 7 PM.