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The New York Islanders are set to face the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on Saturday in hopes of collecting a second-straight win on their three-game road trip. 

A gritty and pesky performance led the Islanders to a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night in Sunrise. Ryan Pulock, Mathew Barzal and Jean-Gabriel Pageau (GWG, 1A) scored for the Islanders, while Casey Cizikas recorded a pair of assists. Semyon Varlamov earned his second consecutive win, stopping 26 of 28 shots. 

The two points were crucial for the Islanders in the tight playoff race in the East. The Islanders (77 points) stand four points back of the Washington Capitals (81 points), who occupy the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. Detroit (79 points) is sandwiched between New York and Washington - two points ahead of the Islanders in the standings - though they played one more game. The Islanders also lurk five points behind the Philadelphia Flyers (82 points) with two-games in-hand.  

"It was a big win for us, big win for our group," Bo Horvat said. "It brought us right back into the fight. We got two big games coming up here and we got to make the most of it."

The Lightning are coming off a 3-1 win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night. Mitchell Chaffee, Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov (EN) led the way offensively for the Lightning, while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 23 saves in the win.

The Isles and Bolts are knotted in the season series at one game apiece. The Islanders’ offense exploded in a 6-2 win on Feb. 8, while they fell 4-2 to the Lightning on Feb. 24, with both games at UBS Arena.



- The Islanders debuted some new look lines in Friday's practice. Roy elevated Casey Cizikas to a line with Brock Nelson and Kyle Palmieri, while Bo Horvat shifted to wing on a line with Pierre Engvall and JG Pageau.  Horvat said on Friday it’s his first time playing wing since his junior days with the OHL’s London Knights.

- Semyon Varlamov will start on Saturday, per Head Coach Patrick Roy. With 26 saves in a 3-2 win on Thursday, Varlamov improved to 3-0-1 in his last four starts and is 9-7-4 on the season.  Varlamov hasn’t started consecutive games since Jan. 25 and 27.

"He looks really sharp," Head Coach Patrick Roy said on Friday. "He played really well [on Thursday] and I thought he deserves the start tomorrow."

- Mathew Barzal set a career high in goals with his 23rd tally of the season on Thursday, surpassing his previous career high of 22 goals in 2017-18. Barzal has thrived under  Roy, recording 28 points (11G, 17A) in 27 games since the coaching change, which leads the team in point production. 

- Bo Horvat has 499 career points and could tally his milestone 500th point on Saturday against the Lightning. 

- Pageau had a two-point performance (1G, 1A) on Thursday night, scoring the game-winner against Florida and set up Ryan Pulock for his first period goal. Pageau’s two-point outing marked his fourth multi-point game of the season. He reached 30 points on the season, which marks his sixth career 30-point season and third with the Islanders.


- The Lightning occupy the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with 87 points. They chase the Toronto Maple Leafs (91 points) for third in the Atlantic Division with an equal number of games played. 

- Brayden Point notched his NHL-leading 11th game-winner of the season on Wednesday over the Bruins. Point has eight points (6G, 2A) in his last four outings, and he ties Nikita Kucherov for the team lead in goals (42). 

- Kucherov leads the NHL with 124 points this season and his 42 goals mark a career high. The 30-year-old winger has recorded eight, four-point performances this season, including two recently on Mar. 19 and 21.

- The Lightning made some moves at the NHL trade deadline, acquiring Anthony Duclair from the San Jose Sharks and Matt Dumba from the Arizona Coyotes. 

- The Lightning owns the league’s best power play (28.9%) while their penalty kill ranks sixth (82.5%). Tampa Bay is a high-octane team, averaging 3.47 goals for per game, which ranks fifth in the NHL.

- Andrei Vasilevskiy has won six straight starts against the Islanders and is 8-2-0 in his last 10 games against the Isles.

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