Islanders’ Pierre Engvall on 3rd-period benching vs. Sabres: ‘It was a little bit with the structure’

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Pierre Engvall Islanders
New York Islanders left wing Pierre Engvall (18) passes the puck against Detroit Red Wings center Pius Suter (24) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 4, 2023, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

PITTSBURGH — In just his second game as a member of the New York Islanders, right-winger Pierre Engvall was benched for the final 15:01 of his new team’s victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday after being on the ice for both goals allowed.

With the puck at the blue line of the Islanders’ defensive zone, he hung near center ice and was slow to backcheck, allowing Sabres forward Dylan Cozens to skate right down between the circle to snipe a wrister past Ilya Sorokin.

After the Islanders battled back to take a 2-1 lead, Engvall chased Peyton Krebbs behind the Islanders’ goal, leaving Anders Lee and Bo Horvat to try and guard the point on their own. Kyle Okposo managed to find some space and snuck a shot through to tie it up.

It was the last time that Engvall saw the ice in the Islanders’ win, but on Thursday he was back skating with the first line of Horvat and Lee — understanding that there are bound to be growing pains as he adapts to life with the Islanders.

“There were some certain things that he’s still getting used to,” head coach Lane Lambert said on Thursday. “He’s new into the fold and it’s always going to take a little bit of time for a guy coming in like that after having played on another team for quite a while.”

Most of it stems from the team’s philosophy. It’s no secret that the Islanders play a more defensive-minded, structured brand of hockey to attain success. It’s a considerable change of pace compared to Engvall’s former team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, that highlights its embarrassment of attacking riches.

“It was a little bit with the structure here,” Engvall said about his conversation with Lambert regarding his benching. “It’s different but I think I learned a bit more about it. I’m ready to go… Just try to take in as much as you can but at the same time, you just got to play your game and don’t worry too much about it. Just go out there and have fun.”

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