ISLANDERS (11-8-3) at PANTHERS (8-9-4)
TV: MSG+2, FS-F
Forward Ryan Strome is back with the New York Islanders and ready to prove himself, beginning with their game against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center on Friday.
Strome, who played in 81 regular-season games last season and all seven games of the Islanders' Eastern Conference First Round Series against the Washington Capitals in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, was assigned to Bridgeport of the American Hockey League earlier this month.
"I settled down a little bit, got my feet under me and got back to the basics," Strome told the Islanders website. "I really wanted to become better out of it, it really helped me."
Strome had one goal and five points in 12 games with the Islanders before he was sent down on Nov. 6. Coach Jack Capuano said he expects certain things of the fifth pick in the 2011 NHL Draft now that he's back in the NHL.
"We want to see him add some offense but at the same time, it's the ability to play without the puck," Capuano said. "You're going to get your chances offensively, but the willingness to block shots, pay the price and play a 200-foot game. He's going to get his chances on one of the [power-play] units, but it's engaging, it's moving your feet and being in constant motion. It's doing the things that we want to do as a hockey team and playing fast, but part of that is playing physical as well."
Jaroslav Halak will start in goal for the Islanders, who are coming off a 3-1 win Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Roberto Luongo will be in net for the Panthers, who are five points behind the Islanders for one of the two wild-card spots in the East, and look to break out of an 0-2-1 skid.
"We haven't played well lately at home but we have to win a big game tonight," coach Gerard Gallant told the Panthers website. "I mean, we're under .500 right now. You've got to get back to .500 and then you go on a big road trip for five games. There's no easy games in our League, especially for a team like us, and you've got to battle hard and find ways to win."
Here are the projected lineups:
Brock Nelson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
Anders Lee - Frans Nielsen - Josh Bailey
Nikolay Kulemin - Mikhail Grabovski - Ryan Strome
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy - Travis Hamonic
Calvin de Haan - Johnny Boychuk
Brian Strait - Marek Zidlicky
Injured: Eric Boulton (lower body), Thomas Hickey (lower body)
Scratched: Steve Bernier, Taylor Beck, Adam Pelech
Brandon Pirri - Aleksander Barkov - Jaromir Jagr
Jonathan Huberdeau - Nick Bjugstad - Jussi Jokinen
Reilly Smith - Vincent Trocheck - Logan Shaw
Quinton Howden - Derek MacKenzie - Connor Brickley
Brian Campbell - Aaron Ekblad
Willie Mitchell - Erik Gudbranson
Steven Kampfer - Alex Petrovic
Injured: Dmitry Kulikov (lower body)
Scratched:���������Shawn Thornton, Dave Bolland
Status report: Bernier will be scratched to make room for Strome. … Shaw and Brickley enter the lineup after the Panthers sent Rocco Grimaldi and Garrett Wilson to Portland of the American Hockey League on Thursday.
Who's hot: Okposo has one goal and seven assists during a six-game point streak. Tavares has three goals and three assists during a four-game point streak. Nielsen has four goals and two assists in his past five games. … Barkov has a goal in three consecutive games. Jagr has one goal and three assists during a four-game point streak.