NEW YORK ISLANDERS (11-8-4) VS. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (11-10-3)
7 P.M. AMALIE ARENA, MSG+, CHANNEL FINDER, WNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM, LI NEWS 103.9 FM
1. Strome Returns, Scores:
Strome Returns, Scores: Ryan Strome made an impact in his return to the Islanders lineup, scoring the goal that sparked the team’s third-period comeback. Strome had spent the previous three weeks with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, but was recalled on Thanksgiving Day. Head coach Jack Capuano said Strome – who was playing with Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolay Kulemin – played with confidence and poise.
“Even if I didn’t score, I would have been satisfied with playing hard being around the puck a lot, but it’s nice to be rewarded,” Strome said.” It’s funny how it works, I couldn’t buy one before and then you come back and get one right away.”
2. Hickey Could Return: Defenseman Thomas Hickey could return to the Islanders lineup Saturday against the Lightning. Hickey has been sidelined since Oct. 24 with a lower-body injury, but returned to practice on Tuesday and made the trip to Florida with the team.
“He’s real close,” head coach Jack Capuano said Friday morning. “We’ll see how he feels after the skate today. He’s getting to where he needs to be.”
Hickey had two goals in four games before suffering his injury. He was also sidelined with a broken hand earlier this season.
3. Greiss (Likely) in Goal: Thomas Greiss is likely to start Saturday, as the Islanders play out the second of back-to-back games. Jaroslav Halak played Friday night and Jack Capuano tends to split back-to-back starts between his two goalies. Greiss is 5-3-2 this season with a 2.26 goals against average and a .927 save percentage. Greiss’ last start came on Nov. 22 against the Montreal Canadiens. 4. Lightning Not Striking Twice:
After going to the Stanley Cup Final last season, the Tampa Bay Lightning currently find themselves out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Lightning (11-10-3) are one point behind the Islanders for the eighth seed and are two back of division rivals the Detroit Red Wings.
The Lightning’s stagnant start can be attributed to a downturn in goal scoring, as the Bolts are 22nd in the league with 2.35 goals-per-game, after leading the NHL with 3.16 per game last season. Steven Stamkos is doing his part with 11 tallies, but the “Triplet Line” of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat have yet to find their offensive groove from last season. Defenseman Victor Hedman is tied with Kucherov for second in points on the Lightning with 13 points.
Ben Bishop is likely to start for the Lightning after Andrei Vasilevskiy played on Friday night. Bishop is off to a strong start, with a 9-7-2 record with a 1.99 goals against average and a .929 save percentage.