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Panthers go for season sweep of Isles

by John Kreiser
ISLANDERS (30-33-11) at PANTHERS (36-24-14)

TV: MSG PLUS (HD); FS-Florida (HD)

Last 10: New York 4-4-2; Florida 6-2-2

Season Series: The Panthers are trying for a sweep of the four-game series. They've outscored the Islanders 10-3 in the first three games, including a 4-2 win in Islanders' other visit to South Florida in October.

Big Story: While the Islanders are playing out the end of a fifth straight non-playoff season, the Panthers are trying to end a postseason drought that dates to 2000. They enter the day on top in the Southeast Division, four points ahead of Washington, but come into the game off a disappointing 2-1 shootout loss to Edmonton.

Team Scope:

Islanders: The Isles dominated Tampa Bay for most of Saturday night's game, rallied from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead -- then allowed the Lightning to score a pair of goals midway through the third period and left with a 4-3 loss.

"We had the big goal at the end of the second and a big goal to start the third," center John Tavares said. "You can't ask for much more. Usually that's able to carry a lot of momentum and we didn't sustain it for the third period."

Panthers: Florida picked a bad time to go into an offensive funk. The Panthers scored just two goals in losses to Carolina (3-1) and Edmonton (2-1), a pair of non-playoff teams.

This is a game they can't afford to lose.

"There's no shortcuts right now," coach Kevin Dineen said. "We're looking to maybe take a little easier path, to try and take the highway instead of the dirt road and that's just not going to happen this time of year."

Who's Hot: Florida's Fleischmann has a goal and four assists in the last five home games. He's recorded one goal and three assists in the three wins against the Islanders. … Tavares has eight points in his last five games. Matt Moulson has five goals in six games.

Injury Report: The Islanders are healthy. … Florida is without forwards Jack Skille (shoulder) and Matt Bradley (concussion).

Stat Pack: Florida is 9-0-1 against the Islanders in New York's last 10 visits to BankAtlantic Center. The Isles' last regulation win in South Florida was a 4-1 win on Nov. 18, 2006. … Moulson's goal in the loss to Tampa Bay was the 100th of his career. He is the first Islander in more than a decade to post three straight 30-goal seasons.

Puck Drop: Florida scored 18 goals while winning five in a row before the losses to the Hurricanes and Oilers. A visit from the Islanders, one of the NHL's weakest defensive teams, could be just what the Panthers' offense needs.

"We just need to produce more offense," Dineen told the team's website. "Play the game the way it's supposed to be played."

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