PANTHERS (25-26-7) at ISLANDERS (22-30-7)
TV: Fox Sports-Florida, MSG-Plus.
Last 10: Florida 3-5-2; New York 7-3-0.
Season Series: This is the third of four meetings between the teams. Florida won the first two rounds and outscored the Isles 8-4 along the way. The Panthers haven't faced the Islanders since Nov. 20, when they earned a 4-1 victory at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Big Story: It's a matchup of two teams with little chance of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, right?
Well, Florida is much better shape than the Islanders are, but with the way the teams ahead of them are playing right now, is it really ludicrous to believe that perhaps both teams are still in the hunt? Sure, no team is playing as well as the red-hot Devils, but New York -- 17-12-2 in its last 31 games -- is only three points behind New Jersey, a team everyone seems to believe is very much alive.
"Obviously something's going well," Isles forward Blake Comeau told Newsday. "Guys are playing hard and (coach Jack Capuano's) giving guys the chance to be creative."
Panthers: Florida opened a four-game trip in winning fashion Saturday night with a 3-2 shootout victory at Tampa Bay. Mike Santorelli scored the tying goal with 3 minutes left in the third period and added the lone shootout goal as the Panthers moved within seven points of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"One thing that this team does is give the fans their money's worth in effort," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. "It's not always pretty, and we don't always win, but they don't cheat you in effort."
Islanders: Al Montoya has played for two NHL teams in his career. In his debut with the Phoenix Coyotes on April 1, 2009, he made 23 saves and shut out the Colorado Avalanche. In his first start with the Islanders on Saturday night, Montoya stopped all 35 shots he faced as New York earned a 3-0 victory against the Los Angeles Kings at the Coliseum.
Montoya, acquired from Phoenix earlier this month for a sixth-round draft pick, will likely receive his second straight start Monday afternoon.
"Our team came out and played hard," Montoya said. "We knew this was going to be a good team tonight. We controlled their momentum swings. We came out in the first wanting to win this game and we showed that. They came back and pushed in the second, but we held our ground, did a good job and took care of business."
Who's Hot: Panthers forward David Booth has points in three consecutive games (2-1-3). It's his fourth three-game point streak of the season. … Isles center John Tavares has four points in his last two games.
Injury Report: Florida will be without Shawn Matthias (broken ankle), Byron Bitz (sports hernia), Evgenu Dadonov (broken finger) and Dmitry Kulikov (ankle). … The Islanders, who lead the League in man-games lost, will be without Rick DiPietro (facial fractures, knee swelling), Kevin Poulin (knee), Mark Streit (shoulder), Mike Mottau (hip), Mark Eaton (hip), Doug Weight (back), Jeremy Colliton (rib) and Trent Hunter (knee).
Stat Pack: The Panthers have played 35 one-goal games (15-13-7) this season, including 17 of their last 19 contests. … The Islanders are the only team in the NHL boasting three players who have scored at least 23 goals. Rookie sensation Michael Grabner leads the club with 25, while Tavares and Matt Moulson each have 23.
Puck Drop: "I don't know why I'm only scoring shorthanded. Me and Grabs (Grabner) try to be very aggressive there, and sometimes they don't have a back checker, and D's try to pinch on the blue line on a 50-50 puck. Sometimes you get those 2-on-1s, 1-on-1s shorthanded. We've been getting some chances." -- Isles center Frans Nielsen, who leads the NHL with five shorthanded goals