Islanders, Panthers seek return to winning ways

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The New York Islanders, who had their 10-game win streak snapped on Thursday, will try to get it going again on Saturday against the visiting Florida Panthers in Brooklyn.

New York squandered a three-goal lead and lost 4-3 in overtime to the Pittsburgh Penguins, a setback that frustrated Islanders captain Anders Lee.

“We just have to be better,” said Lee, who has played in 215 consecutive games. “That’s not how we’ve been playing. Bad lapses, and it cost us a point.”

The Panthers are also coming off an overtime loss during which they blew a lead. The Washington Capitals rallied from two goals down to beat the host Panthers 5-4 on Thursday night.

“I’ll take the point, but … I think we got a little out of our game when we started losing pucks,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think we were trying to do too much.”

The Panthers have earned at least one point in 11 of their past 12 games, but it was little consolation to team captain Aleksander Barkov, who has one goal and one assist in three consecutive contests.

“We’re disappointed,” Barkov said after Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad was stopped on what could have been a game-winning breakaway in overtime. “A couple of lucky bounces for them, and they won.”

For Saturday’s game, the Panthers are hoping to get back second-line center and former All-Star Vincent Trocheck and fourth-line center Noel Acciari, both of whom missed the Washington game due to lower-body injuries. Of the two, Trocheck seems more likely to return on Saturday based on his work during Friday’s practice.

The Panthers are also without forward Jayce Hawryluk, which is nursing an upper-body injury.

With all those injuries to forwards, Florida recalled winger Dominic Toninato, who made his Panthers debut on Thursday. He did not register a point, but he got three shots on goal in 11:12 of ice time.

In addition, Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson returned from the injury list on Thursday after he had been out for five games. He played 23:01 against Washington and was plus-1.

For the Islanders, defenseman Nick Leddy, who has missed three straight games due to a lower-body injury, could return to face the Panthers.

The Islanders, though, haven’t had first-line winger Jordan Eberle since Oct. 12 due to a lower-body injury. He has scored more than 15 goals for nine straight years but has not hit the back of the net in five games this season. Prior to this injury, he had missed just five games in the past three seasons.

Without Eberle, the Islanders have scored by committee as forwards Brock Nelson, Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal and Lee all have between 10 and 12 points.

Besides their balance, a key for the Islanders is their defensive structure and their goaltenders, Thomas Greiss and Semyon Varlamov.

Greiss, who hasn’t played since Tuesday, is 6-1-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage. He has won five straight starts.

Varlamov, who took the loss against the Penguins on Thursday, is 5-2-1 with a 2.37 GAA and a .924 save percentage.

Florida’s offense is led by Jonathan Huberdeau and Barkov. Huberdeau leads Florida with nine goals and is tied with Barkov for the top spot in points (19). Barkov leads the team with 16 assists.

In goal, Florida has Sergei Bobrovsky (6-2-4, 3.50 GAA, .878 save percentage). Backup Sam Montembeault is 1-1-1 with a 2.81 GAA and a .905 save percentage.

Both teams have Stanley Cup-winning coaches — Quenneville with the Panthers, and Barry Trotz for New York.

–Field Level Media

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