PANTHERS (8-9-0) at ISLANDERS (4-11-3)
-- MSG PLUS 2
-- Florida 5-5-0, New York 0-9-1
-- One game of four is already in the books -- the last meeting between these two is where things started to turn for the Islanders. John Tavares
scored a hat trick but the Panthers prevailed 4-3 on Oct. 23, starting the Isles' current 11-game losing streak.
-- The losses have kept mounting on Long Island despite a coaching change and some solid efforts, including one-goal losses to the Flyers, Ducks and Sharks. The easy answer as to why is the fact that the Islanders scored one goal or less in each of those games. The Panthers are looking to take a second game out of three on the road, having come from behind in Atlanta for a 2-1 win before being blanked 4-0 on Thursday due to an impeccable Tuukka Rask performance in Boston.
-- Following the impressive 2-1 win in Atlanta, the Cats peppered Rask right out of the gate, firing 29 shots in the first two periods en route to 41 overall. None of them got through, even the 11 they took on the power play.
"Tuukka Rask was our power-play problem. It wasn't our power play," Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. "We generated plenty of chances on the power play. I mean, when you've got a goalie that plays like that, that's the power-play problem."
It was a bit of a role reversal as the Panthers had shut the Bruins out twice in a row at TD Garden last year and hadn't allowed a goal in Boston since Feb. 24, 2009.
-- For a team that's lost 11 in a row, the locker room is in higher-than-expected spirits, especially after interim coach Jack Capuano told the team to loosen up and start having fun playing hockey. The effort is there, say the players. It's just a matter of seeing results.
"There was nothing really wrong, we got into the zone fine, we moved around great, got great shots on net, we just can't bury the puck," defenseman James Wisniewski said after Wednesday's 4-2 loss to the Lightning. "We're just not burying our chances, we're not grinding down and making sure we put it through the net.
"It's not lack of effort, it's not like we're floating around out there, we're grinding it out. Take the Anaheim game, for example, they get nine (actually 14) shots on goal and we lose 1-0. I'm almost sick of answering questions because it's not like, 'What happened? What went wrong?' We didn't score goals. That's all it is."
Who's hot -
- Florida goaltender Tomas Vokoun had a three-game winning streak stopped with Thursday's loss in Boston. The four goals that got past him also stopped a four-game stretch in which he hadn't allowed more than two.
-- Panthers winger Rostislav Olesz broke a middle finger when he took a puck off it Thursday night. He will not play Saturday and will be re-evaluated when the team returns home. Isles defenseman Jack Hillen (concussion) has missed the last two games and is out indefinitely.
-- Wednesday's win in Atlanta was the Panthers' first this season in which the opponent opened the scoring. It was also their first win trailing after one period. Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson has borne the brunt of the streak, losing eight straight starts despite a quite respectable 2.45 goals-against average. The Isles have totaled just 16 goals over the 11 losses, including seven games in which they scored no more than one.
-- "I still believe in us. There's a lot positive in the last five or six games. Personally I felt a lot more comfortable out there. When they tell you to go out there and have fun, you're not thinking as much, you don't worry as much. I think it helps but we didn't come up with a win again tonight and that's why you play hockey, to win games. We have to find a way to do that. I believe in this bunch of guys, I think it's going to happen, but we have to stick with the plan." -- Islanders forward PA Parenteau after Wednesday's game