Islanders, Panthers battle for playoff positioning
Monday, 12.14.2009 / 7:00 PM
Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing EditorPANTHERS (12-14-7) at ISLANDERS (12-13-7)
Florida 2-5-3; New York 4-6-0
This is the second of four meetings between the teams. The Panthers earned a 5-4 shootout win against the Isles at the BankAtlantic Center on Nov. 14.
The Islanders, picked by many to finish near the bottom of the NHL standings again this season, moved into third place in the Atlantic Division on Saturday night with a 3-2 overtime victory against the Boston Bruins at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Florida coach Peter DeBoer isn't big on moral victories, but he had to be proud of the way his team battled on Saturday night in a 3-2 shootout loss at Pittsburgh. Stephen Weiss
erased a 2-1 deficit with his 14th goal of the season 4:39 into the third period. Tomas Vokoun made 37 saves for the Panthers.
Four of Florida's past six games have gone past regulation, and the Panthers are 1-0-3 in those games. Monday marks the end of their four-game road trip.
"We didn't win, but we played an awful good third period for back-to-back nights and for the schedule we have had," said DeBoer, whose team was playing its seventh game in 11 days. "I was really proud of our effort. We had to dig deep with 20 minutes to go to find a way to get into overtime and we did that. We didn't win, but it was a gritty effort."
An abundance of youth hasn't harmed New York this season, as its top two goal-scorers -- John Tavares
and Matt Moulson
-- have a combined 93 games of NHL experience. Moulson erased a 2-1 deficit late in the second period on Saturday before Frans Nielsen
tallied the game-winner 24 seconds into overtime.
"I think our power play has started to pick it up a bit," said Tavares, who leads the club with 27 points (15 goals, 12 assists). "I'm just trying to find the right areas to put myself in the best position to get opportunities and put the puck in the net."
Panthers forward Nathan Horton has enjoyed a pair of multi-point games this month and has 20 assists in 33 games. … Tavares had scored the last five goals for the Islanders before Rob Schremp notched his first NHL goal 3:58 into Saturday's victory.
Florida forwards Gregory Campbell and Dominic Moore are day-to-day with upper-body injuries, while Kenndal McArdle (shoulder), Cory Stillman (knee) and Nick Tarnasky (face) are expected to return in the coming weeks. David Booth
(concussion) is out indefinitely. … Isles defenseman Andy Sutton (groin) is day-to-day and could return on Monday, while forward Sean Bergenheim
(rib) is out 1-2 weeks. Doug Weight (upper body), Rick DiPietro
(knee) and Tim Jackman (hip) are expected to return later this month. Radek Martinek (torn ACL) is out for the season.
The Islanders have returned home following a stretch in which they played 14 of 17 games away from Long Island. Saturday's win against Boston was the opener of a 10-game segment in which their only road games are two visits to Manhattan to face the Rangers.
"If it's what I'm told -- that he's just being cautious -- then no, (I'm not concerned). But if it turns out to be something more severe, then I would be concerned. From where he's coming from, he has to be (cautious)." -- Isles coach Scott Gordon on Rick DiPietro
, who left Friday's rehab start after two periods due to stiffness.