Tonight the Islanders return home after a three day break and a four game road trip to play the Florida Panthers.
The Road Trip:
The Islanders started their four game road trip against a Minnesota Wild team that at the time had won 11 straight games. The Islanders stuck with the Wild until the end but a 6-4 loss served as the end for one Islander. That Islander was goaltender Jaroslav Halak who stopped 21 of 25 shots in the loss before being pulled. The following the day he was placed on waivers and the day after that he cleared waivers and headed to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The Islanders then went to Winnipeg to conclude 2016. They did so with a 6-2 win behind 32 saves on 34 shots from Thomas Greiss and goals from Nikolay Kulemin, John Tavares, Shane Prince, Ryan Strome, Anders Lee, and Andrew Ladd. The Islanders then had five days off before a game against the league worst Colorado Avalanche. Avalanche goaltender Calvin Pickard played very well and so did Thomas Greiss in what became a goaltender battle that lasted up until the final minutes of overtime where a shot was stopped by Greiss but the rebound was put in by Nathan MacKinnon for a 2-1 Avalanche win. The next day the Islanders faced another bottom-of-the-league team, the Arizona Coyotes. Thomas Greiss was once again in net and once again kept his team in the game. He kept them in the game all the way to the shootout where the Coyotes put their skills on display going a perfect 2-2 while the Isles went 0-2 leading to a 2-1 shootout loss.
23 Years in the Making:
The last time the Panthers were at the Barclays Center they left with their season. Leading 1-0 in the final minute of regulation, the Panthers were so close to forcing a game seven in Florida. However, after the Panthers couldn’t get an empty net goal to seal the deal, Nick Leddy went up the ice. He skated all the way to the Panther’s goal line and centered for Nikolay Kulemin who was stopped on a great save by Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo. However, the puck was loose in the crease. Coming from off the bench, no one on the Panthers picked up the Islanders’ captain John Tavares. Tavares got to the loose puck and put it into the back of the net to tie the game. One overtime went by and then more than halfway through the second overtime, Kyle Okposo passed it to John Tavares. Tavares took a shot that was stopped by the pad of Luongo but he was able to collect his own rebound. Still with the puck, Tavares took it around the net and scored backhand on the wraparound. The goal ended the Panthers’ season and sent the Islanders to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 23 years. After that, a lot changed for the Florida Panthers despite a pretty successful season. They changed basically everything. From a new logo to new jerseys, front office changes to some new players. Earlier on in the season they even made a coaching change. Despite only being a few points out of a playoff spot they fired head coach Gerard Gallant. Since then, their GM, Tom Rowe has taken over as head coach.
The Islanders have played one of their three games against the Panthers this season. The second will be played tonight and the third and final game will be played in Florida on Friday. The first game was going well until the final minute, a storyline that continues to follow them all season long. The Islanders continue to let up late goals that either tie or win games against them and that first game in Florida was no different. In that game Marchessault tied it with 13.6 seconds to go and then shortly after the Panthers won it in overtime.
John Tavares, an All-Star Again:
Yesterday the NHL released the rosters for the 2017 NHL All-Star game and John Tavares will be the Islanders lone representative. For Tavares, it will be his fourth straight appearance. He was the Metropolitan Division captain last year after Alex Ovechkin, who was originally selected captain, didn’t attend. This year Sidney Crosby is the Metropolitan Division’s selected captain. The All-Star game before that he scored four times and the one before that which was back in 2012, he had a goal. Read more about Tavares being selected into the All-Star game here.
In the 2-1 shootout loss to the Coyotes, Hamonic left the game after what looked like a knee-on-knee hit but returned. However, it doesn’t look like he will be in the lineup for tonight’s game against the Panthers. If he isn’t in the lineup, Adam Pelech will likely take his place.
Cappy on Hamonic: “Travis is day-to-day, it doesn’t look like he’ll play tomorrow. Pelech is going to get a chance.” #Isles
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 10, 2017
— Buddy (@BuddyPeck) January 8, 2017