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Preview: Islanders vs. Panthers

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders

NEW YORK ISLANDERS (37-21-8) VS. FLORIDA PANTHERS  (38-21-9)

7 P.M. BARCLAYS CENTER, MSG+, WNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM, LI NEWS 103.9 FM, BUY TICKETS - ANDERS LEE BOBBLEHEAD NIGHT

FIVE THINGS:

1. ISLES-PANTHERS III:

The New York Islanders and Florida Panthers hook up for the third and final time this season. The Islanders are looking for their first win against the Panthers this season, after going 0-1-1 in the first two meetings. Roberto Luongo stole the most recent meeting for the Panthers, stopping 33-of-34 shots, including all 19 in the first period. The previous game slipped through the Islanders’ fingers in a five-round shootout in Sunrise. 

2. WHAT IT MEANS:

Both the Islanders and Panthers are looking to clinch a playoff berth and secure home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. For both teams, home ice is possible, which is critical in the playoffs, giving Monday’s game some extra meaning and intrigue.  

The Islanders are currently three points back of the New York Rangers for second place in the Metropolitan Division with three games in hand. They are also holding a two-point lead on the Pittsburgh Penguins and also have two games in hand on the Penguins. 

The Panthers are currently second in the Atlantic Division, tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning with 85 points, but have played one fewer game. First place is within reach for the Panthers, who are one point back of the Boston Bruins while holding two games in hand.  

3. ANDERS LEE BOBBLEHEAD NIGHT: 

Monday night is Anders Lee Bobblehead Night at Barclays Center. The first 10,000 fans in attendance will receive Lee bobbleheads. 

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4. JAROMIR JAGR:

The fact that Jaromir Jagr is playing in the NHL at 43 is impressive enough, let alone the fact that he’s still contributing at a high level. Jagr leads the Panthers with 53 points (23G, 30A) in 65 games this season and has five points (2G, 3A) in his last three games. 

“He’s a guy who’s big, uses his body extremely well and shields the puck,” Travis Hamonic said. “I know he’s 40 something years old and he doesn’t look it out there. He’s one of the best players in the league still which is pretty amazing.” 

Jagr is a workout freak – recently posting an Instagram of a late-night workout after a Panthers’ game – and that’s his secret to longevity in the NHL. The fifth-overall pick in the 1990 draft was scoring goals before some of the current Islanders could walk, so it’s a surreal experience to play against a living legend.

“Since I’ve been in the league it’s been pretty cool to play against a guy like that,” Hamonic said. “But certainly try to play him hard and play him physical when you have the opportunity.” 

5. PANTHERS PROWLING:

The Florida Panthers success has been one of the surprises of the NHL season. At 38-21-9, the Panthers are currently second in the Atlantic Division and are poised to return to the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 season. 

The Panthers are led by 44-year-old Jaromir Jagr, 36-year-old goaltender Roberto Luongo, 19-year-old defenseman Aaron Ekblad and 20-year-old Aleksander Barkov in a unique combination of old vets and young stars. 

Jagr leads the team with 53 points (23G, 30A), Luongo has 29 wins this season, Ekblad has 28 points while Barkov is nearly scoring a point-per-game (43 in 52). 

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