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HomeSportsHockeyNHL News: Panthers glad to be back home, face struggling Isles

NHL News: Panthers glad to be back home, face struggling Isles


The New York Islanders, who have had a frustrating season thus far, are set to face the Florida Panthers on Saturday night in Sunrise, Fla.

New York is coming off a 5-4 road win over Carolina on Thursday. But even that victory was a rollercoaster as the Islanders were outshot 43-16 and gave up the tying goal with 2.5 seconds left. Mathew Barzal, who had three assists, scored the game-winner in overtime.

“That was a heck of an effort by our entire group,” Barzal said.

The win was needed by the Islanders, who have had a rough week, starting with a 1-0 shootout loss to the visiting Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

Then, on Tuesday, the Islanders gave up the winning goal with 23 seconds left in regulation in a 5-4 loss to New Jersey.

Things have gotten so bad for the Islanders this season that their fans have chanted in favor of the firing of general manager Lou Lamoriello and coach Lane Lambert.

“I have no response,” Lamoriello said this week. “That’s part of the game. I respect the fans. I love their passion.”

The Islanders’ issues include injuries to two of their top six defensemen: Adam Pelech and Sebastian Aho.

In addition, New York ranks next-to-last in the NHL in penalty-kill percentage (71.8).

Barzal leads the Islanders in points (23) and is tied with Noah Dobson for the team lead in assists (16). Brock Nelson tops the squad in goals (10).

Defensively, Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin’s goals-against average has risen from 2.34 last season to 3.10 in 14 games in the current campaign. Backup goalie Semyon Varlamov has a 2.50 GAA in eight games.

The Islanders, who have one of the league’s oldest rosters, will now try their tight-checking and defense-first style against the speedy Panthers, who are fresh off a wild three-game, five-point trip through eastern Canada.

First, Sergei Bobrovsky earned his second shutout of the season as Florida defeated Ottawa 5-0 in a fight-filled game on Monday. The teams combined for 167 penalty minutes. There were 12 game misconducts, including 10 during a third-period scrum.

Not that Panthers coach Paul Maurice was bothered.

“That was mild,” Maurice said. “That’s part of why this game is so darn great — it’s graceful, beautiful, physical and angry all at the same time.”

After Ottawa, the Panthers visited Toronto and lost 2-1 to the Leafs in a six-round shootout. Florida’s Evan Rodrigues had appeared to win the game in the fifth round, but his goal was disallowed after Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe and some Toronto players had already left to the locker-room, assuming defeat. The game didn’t actually end until a shot by Florida’s Nick Cousins hit the post in the sixth round.

“I really don’t spend much time worrying about a shootout,” Maurice said. “I’m happy with our game.”

Florida’s wacky trip finally ended on Thursday with a 5-1 win in Montreal.

“We played a smart game through two periods,” Maurice said, “and then we started shooting the puck.”

Sam Reinhart leads the Panthers in goals (15) and points (28). Aleksander Barkov and Matthew Tkachuk top the squad in assists (15 apiece).

Bobrovsky is 11-6-1 with a 2.41 GAA. Backup Anthony Stolarz is 3-1-1 with a 1.99 GAA.

–Field Level Media

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