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Five keys for Islanders vs. Panthers Game 2

Luongo, Panthers try to bounce back after loss

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The New York Islanders and Florida Panthers play Game 2 of their Eastern Conference First Round Series at BB&T Center on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN360, TVA Sports 3, SUN, MSG+).

Here are five keys for Game 2:

1. Stopping the Islanders' top line: The Panthers did not have an answer for John Tavares, Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo, who combined for seven points in the Islanders' 5-4 win in Game 1 on Thursday. The Panthers know they must find a way to contain the Islanders' big three in Game 2.

"I thought the [Aleksander] Barkov line was outstanding," Florida coach Gerard Gallant said. "They just didn't put the puck in the back of the net. Tavares is a great player. Did they dominate the game compared to Barkov's line or [Nick] Bjugstad's line? I don't think so. They got the end result because the put the puck in the back of the net. But I can't ask the Barkov line to be any better than they were [in Game 1]. We've just got to put the puck in the back of the net."

Video: NYI@FLA, Gm1: Tavares fires home Okposo's feed

2. Greiss on short rest: Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss faced 46 shots Thursday and gets right back at it in this back-to-back situation. Greiss, who never had played more than 25 games in an NHL season prior to this one, makes his 40th start Friday.

Greiss said after Game 1 he wasn't concerned about playing a second game in as many nights.

"There's no travel," he said. "It makes life very easy and have a good rest and be ready to go again [for Game 2]."

3. Short memory: Game 1 was a frustrating loss for the Panthers, who outplayed the Islanders for long stretches at even strength, spent plenty of time in the offensive zone and had 46 shots on goal, including 16 in the third period. But in a back-to-back situation there's no time to dwell on the previous loss. The Panthers know they can't go to New York trailing 2-0 in the series.

"It gives us time to kind of forget about it and just focus on the next game," Panthers forward Garrett Wilson said. "We're getting back after it tonight. I think it definitely will be big for our hockey team. It should be a good bounce-back game here."

4. Can the Islanders draw on last year's Game 2 loss?: The Islanders were in this same position last year. They won Game 1 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Washington Capitals and had a 2-0 lead with less than six minutes left in the second period but ended up losing 4-3 loss and headed home with a split. If they're able to get the lead in Game 2 on Friday, the Islanders believe they can draw on the experience of last year and try to use it to their advantage this time.

"If you go back to those games it was the intangibles," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "It was the little things -- bad line change, power-play goal. You've just got to make sure that guys know Game 2 is the toughest when you win the first one on the road. They're fully aware of that. They [the Panthers] are going to come hard here tonight. We don't want to change anything. I think most of the guys that we had last year understand how tough it is. We've just got to simplify our game here a little bit more. But we've got to do some things better.

"We know that we can play better. Maybe that will benefit us going into Game 2."

Video: NYI@FLA, Gm1: Nielsen buries Tavares' feed on PP

5. Luongo must bounce back: Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo had a Vezina Trophy-worthy regular season with 35 wins and a .922 save percentage. But he allowed five goals on 26 shots in Game 1. The Panthers need a better performance from Luongo in Game 2, although Gallant attributed the Game 1 goals more to defensive breakdowns.

"We gave them four goals," he said. "We turned over pucks, bad line change, just not reading the play real well. I thought we played a [heck] of a game [but] we made four or five mistakes and it cost us.

"We need more from our team. Those turnovers killed us. Do we wish a couple of pucks hit him? Yeah. But they were great shots. Okposo's goal was top-shelf. There were a couple of great shots there. [Luongo] was fine."

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