Islanders Drive to the Playoffs Continues in Florida Tonight

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UNIONDALE, NY - APRIL 01: Casey Cizikas #53 of the New York Islanders is hit into Scott Clemmensen #30 of the Florida Panthers at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on April 1, 2014 in Uniondale, New York.  The Islanders defeated the Panthers 4-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

New York Islanders at Nashville Predators: Pregame Report

When: Saturday, March 7, 2015
Where: BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST
TV: MSG+ (Howie Rose, Butch Goring)
Radio: WRHU 88.7 FM (Chris King), LI News Radio 103.9 FM

The New York Islanders (42-21-3) road trip makes its way back to the Eastern Conference as the Isles take on the Florida Panthers (28-23-14) tonight in Sunrise,Florida.

The Islanders enter tonight’s game coming off a big 4-3 victory against the Nashville Predators and now have collected three of a possible four points on their trip. The Panthers have lost six of their last eight contests and their last defeat was a tough one, a 4-3 shootout loss to the Stars at home.

The Panthers are two points behind the Boston Bruins for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and the Islanders are holding on to a two point lead in the Metropolitan Division over the New York Rangers. It’s an import two points at stake for both clubs.

With the recent trade deadline, injuries and suspensions, both team’s rosters have been in flux of late. The Isles have yet to see either of their trade deadline acquisitions in action, goalie Michal Neuvirth and forward Tyler Kennedy, but Kennedy will be traveling with the team and there’s a possibility Neuvirth starts in net tonight. Also traveling with the Isles is forward Kyle Okposo, who has been seen working out with the team. Casey Cizikas was back in action for the Isles against Nashville and Matt Martin will be back tonight after serving his one game suspension for kneeing Trevor Daley.

Jaromir Jagr has had a goal and an assist for the Panthers since arriving from the Devils, but both he and defenseman Erik Gudbranson missed the Panthers last game against Dallas with flu-like symptoms. The Panthers weren’t able to escape the attention created by #goaliegate in their last outing as neither regular starter Roberto Luongo or backup Al Montoya were able to suit up. Reports have Luongo missing tonight’s game and back in time for the Winnipeg Jets on March 12th after sustaining an upper body injury. Al Montoya will remain out with a groin injury. Dan Ellis and Sam Brittain have taken their places on Florida’s roster with Ellis getting the last start against Dallas.

This is the teams’ third and final meeting of the year with the Panthers having the better of the season series so far. The Islanders had a 4-3 shootout victory in Florida on November 14th. The Panthers answered on February 3rd with a 4-2 victory in New York. Yes, the Isles playoff position looks very secure right now,but after two non-conference games, the Isles are hoping to slam the door on a conference opponent that can still mathematically catch them in the standings.

Players to watch

Islanders

Michal Neuvirth: The newly acquired goalie from Buffalo should see his first taste of action in an Islanders’ jersey. He had a save percentage over .900% in each of his last nine games with the Sabres and a strong performance from him would mean a lot to the Islanders as they could feel more confident resting Halak down the stretch.

Matt Martin: In the event Neuvirth doesn’t get the start, Martin deserves a good look. After serving a one game suspension and missing nearly two games, it will be great to see Martin back in action and checking opponents against the boards. There’s a slight chance his aggressiveness might be a touch “off” early, but that’s highly doubtful.

Panthers

Jaromir Jagr: Doesn’t matter how old he is or who he is playing for you have to know where he is at all times when he is on the ice. It will be interesting to see how he performs with his new team, especially since he’s also coming off a recent illness.

Game Notes

  • The Islanders have out-shot 31 of their last 37 opponents, posting at least 10 more shots than 18 of those 37 opponents.
  • The Islanders are 24-5-3 in games decided by a single goal, including 11-5 in regulation. The Islanders are 12-3 in games that have gone beyond regulation and 7-2 in the shootout.
  • The Islanders are 13-0-0 when they allow the opening goal but score the second goal
  • The Islanders are 35-7-1 when they score at least three goals (including shootout winners) and are 7-13-2 when they do not.

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Lines

Islanders

Forwards

Bailey – Tavares – Lee
Kulimen – Nelson – Clutterbuck
Grabner – Nielsen – Strome
McDonald – Cizikas – Martin

Defense

Leddy-Boychuk
de Haan-Hamonic
Visnovsky-Hickey

Goaltenders
Neuvirth
(Halak)

Panthers

Forwards (last game)
36 Jussi Jokinen – 27 Nick Bjugstad – 24 Brad Boyes
11 Jonathan Huberdeau – 16 Aleksander Barkov – 68 Jaromir Jagr
73 Brandon Pirri – 21 Vincent Trocheck – 12 Jimmy Hayes
19 Scottie Upshall – 17 Derek MacKenzie – 82 Tomas Kopecky

Defense (last game)
51 Brian Campbell – 5 Aaron Ekblad
7 Dmitry Kulikov – 33 Willie Mitchell
72 Alex Petrovic – 44 Erik Gudbranson

Goaltenders (confirmed)
39 Dan Ellis
Sam Brittain

 

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