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Game Preview: Islanders at Panthers

The Islanders wrap up a three-game road trip in Florida

by Sasha Kandrach KandrachSasha / NewYorkIslanders.com

NEW YORK ISLANDERS (20-7-2) AT FLORIDA PANTHERS (15-10-5)

7 PM | BB&T CENTER

WATCH: MSG+ | MSG GO

LISTEN: 88.7FM | 103.9FM | 1050AM


The Islanders wrap-up their three-game road trip against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night at BB&T Center. The Isles are 1-1-0 on their current trip after defeating Tampa 5-1 on Monday night. The Isles never trailed the game as Brock Nelson scored twice in the third period, Josh Bailey scored shorthanded, Anders Lee scored on the power play and Ross Johnston also found the back of the net. Semyon Varlamov made 31 saves.  

Both teams' most recent opponent was Tampa, as Florida lost 2-1 to the Lightning on Tuesday night. Evgenii Dadonov scored the Panthers lone goal of the game in the third period and Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside 46 shots in the loss. The Panthers will face the Islanders for the sixth game of their current nine-game homestand.  



MORNING SKATE UPDATES: 

- Nick Leddy will miss his second straight game with a lower-body injury. Leddy took morning skate and is progressing, but Barry Trotz is keeping him out of the lineup. Noah Dobson will play his second straight game in Leddy's absence and will be paired with Johnny Boychuk. 

- Thomas Greiss was the first goalie off the ice for the Islanders on Thursday and is expected to start in goal. Greiss is 10-4-0 with a 2.24 GAA and a .930 SV% this season. Greiss is 1-0-0 against the Panthers this season, stopping 37-of-38 shots in a 2-1 win on Nov. 9.

- The Isles appear to be going with the same lineup from Monday's 5-1 win against Tampa. 

- Sergei Bobrovsky will start in goal for the Panthers, per the team's official website. Bobrovsky is 11-7-4 with a 3.19 GAA and an .898 SV%. He is 0-1-0 against the Isles this season, stopping 34-of-36 shots in a 2-1 loss on Nov. 9. 

- Defenseman Mike Matheson will be a healthy scratch for the Panthers on Thursday. 

- Panthers projected lines (courtesy of Jameson Olive):

Huberdeau - Barkov - Dadonov
Hoffman - Trocheck - Connolly
Vatrano - Acciari - Malign
Toninato - Boyle - Sceviour

Weegar - Ekblad
Yandle - Stralman
Pysyk - Brown


ISLES NOTES: 

- The Isles improved to a record of 20-7-2 with Monday's win, which is the first time in franchise history that they have won 20 of their first 29 games.  

- Johnston opened up scoring of the Isles in the first period. The goal was Johnston's second of the season - and first since Oct. 27 - though he has been limited to 15 games this year. Monday was the third-straight game that Johnston played on the Isles top line alongside Mathew Barzal and Bailey.  

- Nelson scored his 10th and 11th goals of the season. Through 29 games this season, Nelson has 23 points (11G, 12A) and is second in the Isles leaderboard in goals and points.  

- Bailey had a two-point outing as he scored his eighth goal of the season. Bailey is second on the Isles leaderboard for assists with 13 and third in points with 21 in 29 games. The winger has points in five of his last six games with seven points (1G, 1A) during that span.  

- Lee scored his first power-play goal of the season. Through 29 games this season, Lee has 16 points (8G, 8A). Lee has points in four of his last six games with six points (3G, 3A) during that span.  

- Barzal had one assist on the night. Barzal leads the Isles in goals (12), assists (14) and points (26) through 29 games this season. The center has points in five of his last six games with six points (3G, 3A) in that span.  

- Varlamov made his 15th start of the season and extended his record to 10-3-2. Varlamov has a 2.26 goals against average and a .926 save percentage. Varlamov has won his last three starts and has stopped 122 of the last 126 he's faced over four games.

- Varlamov has split the pipes with Thomas Greiss this season. The Isles are first team since the Sharks in 2006-07 to alternate starting goalies for each of the first 29 games of the season. Greiss has a record of 10-4-0, a 2.24 goals against average and a .930 save percentage.

- Bailey's shorthanded goal was the Isles fourth of the season. The Isles penalty kill went 3-for-3, especially impressive against the NHL's second-ranked power play in Tampa. In the NHL, the Isles PK is ranked 13th with a kill percentage of 82.3.  

- Nick Leddy joined the Islanders for practice on Wednesday. Leddy did not play against Tampa, as he sustained a lower-body injury during the final minutes against Dallas on Saturday evening. Head Coach Barry Trotz said it was too early to tell if Leddy will be available on Thursday.

Noah Dobson took Leddy's spot in the lineup on Monday. The Isles rookie blueliner was plus-two on the night, had one hit and two blocks. 


Video: NYI Practice : Florida Road Trip

PANTHERS NOTES: 

- Florida had won two-straight games prior to Tuesday's loss against Tampa. The Panthers currently sit in third place in the Atlantic Division with 35 points and a record of 15-10-5.  

- Dadonov scored his 12th goal of the season. Through 30 games this year, Dadonov has 24 points and is tied with Aleksander Barkov and Mike Hoffman for the team lead in power-play goals with five. Dadonov has points in four of his last five games with four points (2G, 2A) in that span.  

- Jonathan Huberdeau leads the Panthers with 37 points (11G, 26A) through 30 games this season. The winger is riding a five-game point streak with six points (1G, 5A) during that span.  

- Huberdeau and Barkov's 26 assists are tied for the team high. In the NHL, Huberdeau and Barkov's 26 assists are sixth best.  

- Hoffman had the secondary assist on Dadonov's goal. Hoffman has 22 points (11G, 11A) through 30 games this season. The winger is riding a three-game point streak with four points (1G, 3A) in that span.  

- Bobrovksy made his 23rd start in between the pipes for the Panthers. This season, Bobrovsky has a record of 11-7-4, a 3.19 GAA of and a .898SV%.  

- The Panthers power play went 0-for-3 against the Lightning. In the NHL, Florida's power play unit is ranked seventh overall with a conversion percentage of 24.2.  

- Florida's penalty kill went 2-for-2 against Tampa. Across the League, the Panthers PK unit is ranked third overall at 85.1%.  

- The Panthers loaned Aleksi Saarela to the Springfield Thunderbirds on Wednesday after a three-game stint in the NHL. Jayce Hawryluk was reportedly a full participant in Panthers practice. Hawryluk has been sidelined since Oct. 30 with an upper-body injury. 


ISLES VS. PANTHERS: 

The Isles claimed both meetings against the Panthers this season on home ice. On Oct. 12, the Isles grabbed a 3-2 shootout win at NYCB Live. Nelson scored the shootout winner, Lee and Bailey scored in regulation while Varlamov backstopped the win with 35 saves. 

On Nov. 9, the Isles won 2-1 at Barclays Center as Barzal and Scott Mayfield scored. Greiss made 37 saves.  

Per Eric Hornick's The Skinny: The Isles will be looking to sweep the season series for the first time since 2013 (3-0-0). Overall the Isles have won three straight from the Cats, but all three have been decided by a single goal (including two in shootouts).

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