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TV: FS-Florida (HD); MSG PLUS (HD)
LAST 10: Florida 5-3-2; New York 6-2-2
Season Series: The teams are meeting for the third time this season but the first since October. Florida won 2-0 at the Nassau Coliseum on opening night and 4-2 at the BankAtlantic Center on Oct. 22.
Big Story: With the season at the two-thirds mark, the Panthers come to Long Island with a two-point lead over Washington for first place in the Southeast Division as they try to end a playoff drought that dates to 2000. They won 3-1 at New Jersey on Saturday. The Islanders, who haven't made the postseason since 2007, are back to the .500 mark after beating Los Angeles 2-1 Saturday on Mark Streit's spectacular overtime goal.
Panthers: The road hasn't been kind to the Panthers this season, but they found a way to win at New Jersey despite another poor start. Steve Bernier of the Devils scored 1:39 into the game - the third straight road game in which they've allowed a goal in the first 2:00. But after allowing 11 of the game's first 12 shots, the Panthers regrouped and scored once in each period; combined with a 27-save performance by Scott Clemmensen, the result was Florida's fourth win in six games.
"This was a very satisfying win because it was built around a team effort," coach Kevin Dineen said . "We got a lot of quality minutes out of players. We spread some of the responsibility around the lineup."
Islanders: New York was outshot, outchanced and outplayed for most of its game against Los Angeles. But goaltender Evgeni Nabokov made 34 saves to keep the score tied 1-1 through 60 minutes and earn the Islanders a point. Captain Mark Streit then scored one of the season's most spectacular goals, going through all four Kings before beating Jonathan Quick with a backhander for the 2-1 win.
Streit, who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury that required surgery, said he's finally getting comfortable on the ice again.
"It took me a while to adjust," Streit said. "I was away for a year and a half. The first forty games were kind of a bumpy ride. Lately it's been way better. It's starting to come back together again."
Who's Hot: Former Islander Sean Bergenheim had a goal Saturday and is 4-2-6 in his last six games. … Streit has goals in back-to-back games.
Injury Report: Panthers defenseman Jason Garrison left Saturday's game with a lower-body injury, forcing Brian Campbell to play a season-high 31:57. Goaltender Jose Theodore (knee) returned Saturday as Clemmensen's backup and may play Sunday. Forward Jack Skille (shoulder) may also be ready. Forward Marco Sturm (knee surgery and defenseman Ed Jovanovski (hand) are still out. … The Isles are still without defenseman Travis Hamonic (facial injury), Dylan Reese (knee) and Mike Mottau (concussion) are out, as is center Marty Reasoner (broken hand).
Stat Pack: Florida's Kris Versteeg scored his 21st goal of the season on Saturday, one short of his career high. … Nabokov's victory on Saturday was the 306th of his career, moving him past Isles Hall of Famer Billy Smith into 22nd place on the all-time list. … The Panthers aren't the only team that has trouble at the start of games - the Islanders have surrendered a goal on the first official shot on goal they've faced 10 times this season.
Puck Drop: The Isles are on a 7-2-2 run that has largely been fueled by the play of Nabokov, who has become the unquestioned No. 1 goaltender on the Island - although he may get Sunday off in favor of backup Al Montoya rather than play what would be his third game in less than 72 hours.
Nabokov has stolen two wins this week in games that saw the Islanders outplayed - and is giving them the kind of goaltending they haven't had in years.
"Nabby made some huge saves out there," forward Matt Moulson said of Saturday's performance. "He's got a lot of wins in this League, and that's not for no reason. He's a great goaltender in the clutch. You have a lot of confidence when your goalies are playing well."
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