Preview: Panthers at Islanders
The New York Islanders saw their 10-game winning streak come to an end last time out with a poor third period, but look to record at least a point for the 12th straight contest when they host the Florida Panthers on Saturday afternoon. The Islanders coughed up a three-goal lead in the final 18:22 of regulation and watched Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin score in overtime to halt the second-longest winning streak in club history Thursday.
“We played a good 40 minutes,” Islanders captain Anders Lee told reporters. “We didn’t stick to what we had done through this stretch here, playing that full 60, putting teams away and not really letting them have an opportunity. We’ve just got to play better. That’s not the way we’ve been playing. We all know that, that’s why it’s just a little bit frustrating.” New York entered Friday leading the NHL in goals-against per game (2.27) and will be tested against the offensively gifted Panthers, who are among the league leaders with 3.6 per contest after scoring at least four in eight of their past 10 outings. Florida has gained at least a point in 11 of the past 12 contests (6-1-5) after coughing up a 3-1 lead and giving up a goal 17 seconds into overtime in a 5-4 loss to Washington on Thursday. “If we’re playing our best we can play against any team,” Panthers right wing Brett Connolly told reporters. “We’ve just got to keep getting better every day and we’ll take it from there, but overall it’s been 15 games now, if we would start the season, we would take this record (7-3-5). We would take it the way we’re playing. I think guys have a lot to be proud of.”
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FS Florida, MSG Plus (New York)
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (7-3-5): Captain Aleksander Barkov has scored in three straight contests after going the first 12 of the season without a goal and is tied with fellow forward Jonathan Huberdeau for the team lead with 19 points. Huberdeau tops the club with nine goals after scoring four times and setting up two others in the past three contests and right wing Evgenii Dadonov has six points in his past six games. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky still has an ugly save percentage (.878), but the two-time Vezina Trophy winner has gained at least a point in nine straight starts (5-0-4).
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (11-3-1): New York continues to get strong play between the pipes while alternating goalies and Saturday’s start is likely to go to Thomas Greiss (6-1-0, 2.00 goals against average, .937 SP) after Semyon Varlamov (5-2-1) played Thursday. Josh Bailey, who is one assist shy of 300 for his career, is tied with fellow forward Mathew Barzel for the team lead with 12 points. Center Casey Cizikas and right wing Cal Clutterbuck have each scored twice in the past two contests while defenseman Adam Pelech boasts four points (one goal) and a plus-8 rating in the past five games.
1. Panthers LW Mike Hoffman scored five goals in the season’s first four games and recorded one in the past 11 contests.
2. New York D Nick Leddy (lower body) practiced Thursday after missing the last three games and is day-to-day.
3. Florida D Mike Matheson was a plus-1 in 23 minutes, 1 second of ice time Thursday after missing the previous five games because of injury.
PREDICTION: Panthers 4, Islanders 2