The New York Islanders hit a speed bump last time out and look to regain their top form when they open a difficult four-game road trip Monday against the Florida Panthers. The Islanders, who visit Tampa Bay on Tuesday and also face Pittsburgh and Boston on the trek, had won four straight and seven of eight before dropping a 6-5 home decision to Ottawa on Friday.
“When you’ve got the offense going like we do, sometimes you take chances you shouldn’t,” New York’s Jason Chimera told reporters after Friday’s loss. “We were a little careless, and against a desperate team, it’s going to bite you.” The Islanders have earned at least one point in four of their last five meetings (3-1-1) with the Panthers, who gave up a goal at 4:58 of overtime Saturday to lose at Carolina. Florida managed three goals in dropping its last two games after a promising 3-1-0 stretch and needs to get going at home, where it is just 5-5-2 in the early going. The Panthers also could use more scoring depth behind the trio of Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck, which has accounted for 37.3 percent of the points.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, MSG Plus (New York), FSN Florida
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (15-8-2): New York has one more player than Florida with at least 24 points, and the team’s top six scorers all are on hot streaks offensively. Josh Bailey leads the team with 30 points, including 12 in his last eight games, and captain John Tavares is one behind him while Anders Lee has scored four goals in his last three contests and rookie Mathew Barzal has notched 10 of his 24 points over his last eight matches. Defenseman Nick Leddy also has been on a roll with 11 points in his last nine contests while Jordan Eberle is riding a four-game point streak.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (10-13-3): Barkov scored his third goal in four games Saturday and trails Trocheck (10) by one for the team lead while remaining one point behind Huberdeau (26) for the top spot on the club. With top-line forward Evgenii Dadonov (shoulder) out of the lineup, defenseman Keith Yandle (13) is the only other player on the team with more than 12 points. Nick Bjugstad scored his sixth goal of the campaign on Saturday, pulling within one of his total from 2016-17, when he missed 28 games due to various injuries.
1. Florida RW Radim Vrbata has gone two games without a point since returning from a facial injury that caused him to miss almost two weeks.
2. The Islanders placed C Casey Cizikas (lower body) on injured reserve, retroactive to Nov. 25.
3. Barkov needs four points to become the 13th Panther to reach 200 in his career.
PREDICTION: Panthers 4, Islanders 2