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Surging Islanders continue trip through Florida

by Mike G. Morreale
ISLANDERS (4-1-2) at PANTHERS (2-3-0)
Season series --
This is the first of four meetings between the teams. The Panthers won three meetings last season. Each team won once on home ice via the shootout -- Florida by a 5-4 score and New York by a 2-1 score -- and the Panthers routed the Islanders 7-1 and posted a shutout, 2-0.
Big story -- Don't look now, but the Islanders are leading the Eastern Conference with 10 points. The team scored a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday -- after waiting 10 minutes for a video review before finally realizing Matt Moulson's shot 1:56 into overtime was a winner.

Just as Pavel Kubina's penalty was expiring, Moulson chopped at the puck during a scramble. It hit the arm of Dan Ellis and hopped into the air. Ellis swiped at the puck, apparently sweeping it off the goal line. Play continued until the next stoppage, 3:28 into OT, after which there was a review. Following a 10-minute delay, the goal was allowed, giving the Isles their second overtime win this week. They also won in OT at Toronto on Monday.
Team Scope:

Islanders --
Islanders center John Tavares has 2 goals and 2 assists in four games since missing three games with a mild concussion suffered in the season opener. He netted the game-winner in a 2-1 overtime victory over the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Monday.

"We've been battling through it the first month and a half here, going through injuries right through our lineup, but we've had guys step up," Tavares said. "That's what we've got to do."
Panthers --
Florida will conclude a three-game homestand against the Islanders. On Thursday, goalie Tomas Vokoun was pulled for the first time this season, allowing Scott Clemmensen to make his first appearance of 2010-11 in mop-up duty. Clemmensen made six saves in the loss to Dallas. Vokoun made saves on 19 of the 23 shots he faced. Stephen Weiss scored the lone Florida goal, which was his first of the season.
Who's hot -- Islanders left wing Matt Moulson, who led the team with 30 goals last season, has a team-high 4 goals through seven games in 2010-11. … Despite being pulled from Thursday's contest against Dallas and losing three of five starts this season, Vokoun has still been solid. He sports a 1.94 goals-against average, .930 save percentage and two shutouts.
Injury report --
The Isles are without forwards Kyle Okposo (right shoulder surgery) and Rob Schremp (strained lower back) and defenseman Mark Streit (left shoulder surgery). Forward Josh Bailey (strained hip flexor) is expected to return against the Panthers … For the Panthers, forward Byron Bitz (sports hernia surgery) and defenseman Jason Garrison (groin) are sidelined.
Stat pack -- Panthers left wing David Booth, who is playing on a line with Shawn Matthias and Rostislav Olesz, connected for his first 2-goal game since last March during a 6-0 win over Tampa Bay on Oct. 16. His last 2-goal game, in Toronto last year, came one game before his season ended following his second concussion of the season. For the season, Booth has 2 goals, 3 assists and a plus-1 rating.
Puck drop -- The Panthers will host Bill Torrey Tribute Night on Saturday against the Islanders. Torrey Tribute Night will honor the original team president and current alternate governor and Hockey Hall of Fame member with a special pre-game banner-raising ceremony, South Florida Hockey Den of Honor case dedication and in-game tribute.
It will certainly be an emotional night for Torrey, who also was General Manager of the Islanders from 1972 through '92 -- helping the team to five consecutive trips to the Stanley Cup finals, winning four consecutive Cups (1980, '81, '82, '83) and producing 14 consecutive winning seasons from 1975-1988.
"It will be a special night when the entire Florida Panthers organization honors a hockey legend and wonderful man in Bill Torrey," Panthers General Partner Cliff Viner said. "Bill has become a great friend and everyone in this organization owes him a great debt of gratitude for what he has given to the Panthers franchise. I'm sure Saturday will be an evening that none of us will ever forget, and we hope that Bill will cherish these memories for the rest of his life."

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