In the span of a little over 24 hours, Bo Horvat met his new teammates, signed a deal with the New York Islanders through the 2030-31 season, and played in his first game with his new club.
On Tuesday night, he will head to his new home arena and will try to help the suddenly surging Islanders further steady themselves in the Eastern Conference wild-card race.
Horvat is slated to play his first home game in Elmont, N.Y., on Tuesday when the Islanders complete a back-to-back set by hosting the Seattle Kraken.
The Islanders returned from the All-Star break on Monday by edging the host Philadelphia Flyers 2-1. The Kraken last played on Jan. 28, when they beat the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1.
Horvat, whom the Islanders acquired from the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 30, didn’t collect a point in his New York debut but had a team-high four shots on goal while playing 19:08, second most among Islanders forwards behind the 20:27 of his new linemate Mathew Barzal.
“I’m not going to lie, I was really nervous (Monday),” said Horvat, 27, who spent the first eight-plus years of his career with the Canucks and agreed to an eight-year deal reportedly worth $68 million with the Islanders on Sunday. “The guys made me feel really comfortable. They were great. Obviously, it feels even better to get that win and get my legs under me.”
Horvat’s arrival didn’t immediately solve the offensive struggles for New York, which has three goals or less in 14 consecutive games. But a third straight win following a six-game losing streak vaulted the Islanders into a tie for the last wild-card spot with the Pittsburgh Penguins, though the Penguins have four games in hand.
“It’s funny: Before these three games, it’s like everyone’s writing us off,” said Barzal, who scored the game-winner 8:18 into the second period. “And then win three games. In this league, it’s such a tight division, you’re right back in the mix.”
The Kraken, who finished last in the Pacific Division as an expansion team last season, are in the thick of a playoff race for the first time. Seattle enters play Tuesday tied for first place in the Pacific with the Los Angeles Kings, on whom the Kraken have four games in hand.
The Kraken opened January with a franchise-record eight straight wins and finished the month 11-3-1. All three regulation losses were by three goals.
However, Seattle bounced back from a 5-2 defeat Jan. 27 to the visiting Calgary Flames and never trailed in a victory over the Blue Jackets the next night to close the first half of the season.
“It’s a real good win for our team,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said following the victory. “It’s a really good response coming off (Jan. 27), and it’s a great way to finish off the month of January.”
The Kraken began bolstering for the postseason chase on Sunday when they acquired defenseman Jaycob Megna from the San Jose Sharks for one of Seattle’s two fourth-round picks in the 2023 draft. In a career-best 48 games this season, Megna, 30, has one goal and 11 assists.
–Field Level Media