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Game Preview: Islanders at Panthers

by Jacob Betzner / New York Islanders
The New York Islanders need only 18:03 of scoreless play against the Florida Panthers on Friday night to set a franchise record for consecutive shutout hockey. Goaltender Jaroslav Halak recorded back-to-back shutouts against the Arizona Coyotes last Saturday and the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, but the Isles haven’t conceded a goal since the 3:49 mark of the first period against the Los Angeles Kings on Nov. 6.

“[Jaroslav Halak and Chad Johsnon have] proven with other teams they’ve played for, if you play good in front of them, they’re not going to let in many goals,” said defenseman Thomas Hickey. “If you play really good, they’re going to be excellent.”

Part of the decline in opposition scoring stems from allowing fewer shots per game. The Islanders allowed only 19 shots against the Coyotes and 20 against the Avalanche, a trait Johnson hopes continues.

“We’re competing harder without the puck,” Johnson said. “We’re defending first, and when you do that, you’re going to limit the good scoring chances and the quality of shots that the other team is getting. If we can just stay focused and realize why we are having success, because of the defensive game first, I think we should continue doing what we’re doing.”

Hickey attributed the recent stinginess to a total team effort. Hickey said backchecking from the forwards allows the defensemen to cause turnovers before the opposition crosses the Islanders blue line, limiting quality shots and scoring chances, making life a little easier for either goaltender.

The Panthers have allowed the fewest goals in the Eastern Conference (31), but rank second last in the NHL in goals scored with 24 so far in 2014–15. To earn another win on the road, Head Coach Jack Capuano said the Islanders need to wear down the Panthers defense to create scoring opportunities against goaltender Roberto Luongo,who stopped 25-of-26 shots in a 4-1 win over the San José Sharks on Tuesday.

“They’re are a good, young team,” Capuano said. “The games we played on the road, they were smart games. We managed the puck. We played in our team concept, and that’s important. Hopefully we can understand that and build off that, because that’s what you want on the road.”

The Islanders will also get their first look at Aaron Ekblad, the 2014 first-overall pick. Ekblad leads the Panthers in scoring with eight points on one goal and seven assists.

The Isles look for their fifth consecutive win and a new franchise record tonight at 7:30 p.m. at BB&T Center.

New York Islanders
10-5-0 (20 points – 2nd in Metropolitan Division, 4th in Eastern Conference)
6-3-0 road
Florida Panthers
5-4-4 (14 points - 7th in Atlantic Division, 13th in Eastern Conference)
3-3-0 home
7:30  p.m.
BB&T Center

Sunrise, FL

Play-by-play: Howie Rose
; Color: Butch Goring
Channel Finder

Radio: WRHU 88.7 FM, LI News Radio 103.9 FM
Play-by-play: Chris King; Color: Greg Picker
Islanders News:
- Strome Earning His Ice (Nov. 13)
- Cammarata Earns Big Ten Honor (Nov. 13)
- Islanders Wives in the Community (Nov. 13)
Islanders player to watch
Nikolay Kulemin - Forward

Nikolay Kulemin scored his second goal of the season Tuesday in the Islanders 6-0 rout of the Colorado Avalanche. Both of Kulemin’s goals this season have come a man short, but the 6’1, 226 lbs. winger also has six assists. Kulemin has played alongside John Tavares and Kyle Okposo in recent games and they credit Kulemin with elevating the line’s defensive play.
Panthers player to watch
Aaron Ekblad - Defenseman

Aaron Ekblad, the first-overall pick in June’s draft, has made a smooth transition to the NHL as an 18-year-old. Ekblad leads the Panthers with eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 13 games and is hot, having scored points in four of his last five games (one goal, five assists). The 6'4, 216 lbs. defenseman has four assists in the Panthers last two games.
New York Islanders previous game lines
86 Nikolay Kulemin 91 John Tavares 21 Kyle Okposo
27 Anders Lee 
18 Ryan Strome 29 Brock Nelson
84 Mikhail Grabovski51 Frans Nielsen15 Cal Clutterbuck
17 Matt Martin – 53 Casey Cizikas 89 Cory Conacher


44 Calvin de Haan 3 Travis Hamonic
2 Nick Leddy
55 Johnny Boychuk
14 Thomas Hickey
11 Lubomir Visnovsky

41 Jaroslav Halak
30 Chad Johnson
Florida Panthers previous game lines
82 Tomas Kopecky - 16 Aleksander Barkov - 19 Scottie Upshall
11 Jonathan Huberdeau - 27 Nick Bjugstad - 24 Brad Boyes
36 Jussi Jokinen - 21 Vincent Trocheck - 12 Jimmy Hayes
14 Tomas Fleischmann - 17 Derek MacKenzie - 22 Shawn Thornton

33 Willie Mitchell - 5 Aaron Ekblad
51 Brian Campbell - 47 Colby Robak
4 Dylan Olsen - 44 Erik Gudbranson

1 Roberto Luongo
35 Al Montoya

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