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Game Preview: Islanders at Panthers

The Islanders and Panthers finish their season series in Sunrise (7 p.m., MSG+)

by Sasha Kandrach KandrachSasha /







The Islanders look to claim their first win over the Panthers this season after falling 3-2 in overtime at Barclays Center on Oct. 24 and 4-2 at BB&T Center on Nov. 10. The Panthers scored comeback wins in both contests. The Islanders are 0-3-1 in their last four contests against Florida and have been outscored 14-5 over that span.

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- The stakes are high with two games remaining in the regular season. After dropping a tough 2-1 loss to Toronto on Monday, the Islanders look to complete their final road trip of the regular season and best position themselves for playoffs seeding. 

- The Islanders are in control of their destiny, as far as home ice is concerned. The Isles (99 points) lead the Pittsburgh Penguins (97 points) with two games remaining for each team. It's simple, win both, and the Isles will host a game one for the first time since 1988.

- Jordan Eberle is riding a three-game goal streak (4G, 1A) and has six points (5G, 1A) in the last five games. Eberle scored on the power play with five minutes remaining in the third period against Toronto to rob Frederik Andersen of a shutout on Monday. 

- Robin Lehner made 36 saves on 38 shots against the Maple Leafs. Lehner was given the day off for soreness on Wednesday but made the trip to Florida and is available for Thursday's game. 

- Valtteri Filppula joined the Islanders at practice on Wednesday as a full-participant for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury on March 19. Filppula confirmed he's suffering from a hyperextended elbow. 

- Thomas Hickey could see game action on the Islanders two-game road trip against either Florida or Washington. Hickey took line rushes with Nick Leddy at Wednesday's practice and rotated in on the Isles penalty kill. Hickey has been a healthy scratch for the last six games and was last in the lineup on March 21 against Montreal. 

- The Isles are 13-6-2 in their last 21 road games and 16-7-2 in their last 25 road games.   

- The Isles magic number to clinch the Metropolitan Division is eight, according to Eric Hornick. The Islanders (99 points) are three points back from Washington (102 points) who currently leads the Metropolitan Division. The Isles will need to earn one more point than Washington does on Thursday to set up a potential head-to-head contest for the division on Saturday. The Capitals play Montreal (94 points - 41 ROW), who are vying for an Eastern Conference Wild Card spot, which are currently occupied by Carolina (95 points) and Columbus (94 points - 44 ROW). 

- The Isles continue to lead the league in the fewest goals against average with 2.38 per game. The league average is 2.99. 


- The Panthers are coming off of a 5-3 win over Washington on Monday night. Florida yielded a late rally from the Capitals to deny Washington from clinching the Metro Division title. 

- Vincent Trocheck scored twice, while Frank Vatrano, Jonathan Huberdeau and Troy Brouwer also scored in the win.

- Trocheck's first tally was scored shorthanded and was his 100th NHL career goal. Trocheck has 10 goals this season and 33 points in 53 games played. 

- Huberdeau scored his 28th goal of the season, which extended his career high. Huberdeau is second on the Panthers with 89 points (28G, 61A) in 80 games. Huberdeau is ranked 10th in the NHL with 61 assists. 

- Aleksander Barkov had three assists on Monday and tied Pavel Bure's Panthers record of 94 points in a season, set in 1999-2000. Barkov (34G, 60A) is the Panthers points leader and has suited up for 80 games. Barkov is ranked 10th in the NHL for points. 

- Mike Hoffman leads the Panthers in scoring with 35 goals (69 points). 

- Vatrano extended his NHL career high in goals to 24. Vatrano has 39 points in 79 appearances. 

- Brouwer has a three-game goal streak (three goals).  

- Roberto Luongo made 26 saves in his third consecutive start. Luongo has a goals against average of 3.10 and a save percentage of .900. 

- The Panthers have the second-best power play behind Tampa in the NHL. Florida's power play percentage is 26.9%. 

- Florida's penalty kill is ranked 11th in the NHL at 81.1%. 

- Florida (36-32-12) has been eliminated from contention for a playoff berth.

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