The Islanders hit the road for the first time since the All-Star break and face off against the Steven Stamkos and the surging Lightning in Tampa.
The Islanders are playing well, having taken two of three in their first home-stand since the bye week. They are coming off a 5-3 win over the Kings on Thursday, where rookie sensation Kieffer Bellows scored two goals.Must Read:Islanders Comeback On The Back Of Kieffer Bellows
The Lightning are on an absolute tear. They have won 17 out of their last 20 games and are third in the eastern conference. Most recently, on Thursday night, they beat Pittsburgh 4-2 in Tampa.
The Season Series
Tonight is the last matchup of the season series between these two Eastern Conference foes. The first time these two met feels like forever ago:
During the Isles point streak, on November 1st, the Islanders beat Tampa in convincing fashion 5-2. Anders Lee led the Islanders with two goals and one assist, meanwhile Derick Brassard, Matthew Barzal and Josh Bailey all had two points each and Thomas Greiss got the win.
On December 9th they met in Tampa where the Islanders won again 5-1. It was a full team effort in this one. Brock Nelson has two goals, Bailey and Lee both had two points each and Seymon Varlamov stopped 31 shots in the win.
Tale of the Tape
Every category of this matchup plays in favor of Tampa, but hockey is not a game played on paper. As stated above, the Islanders have dominated this matchup so far this season. Can the Isles complete the season sweep tonight? Leave your comments below!
The odds have the Islanders as the big underdogs in this one, courtesy of the Action Network.
This one is a tricky matchup. The Islanders have dominated the season series, but Tampa is on fire and have won eight straight at home. With that being said, this matchup is completely up in the air.
Keys to the Game
Contain the Stamkos-Point-Kucherov Line
It will be interesting to see how the Isles line up against one of the top lines in hockey. Ideally, we would see the line of Martin-Cizikas-Komarov line up against Tampa's top line, but on the road, the Islanders do not have the last change.
Whoever Tampa decides to match up their top line against, the Islanders must shut them down. If the Isles can keep this line at bay, they will have a great chance to win this game.
As mentioned in my preview last game, special teams can be the difference in a game. Tonight they can play a big factor in the result of this game.
The Lightning have one of the best powerplays in the league and for the Isles to have success they must stay out of the box.
As seen in both games against the Bolts this year, the Islanders have won the special teams battle. The Isles have combined for a perfect six for six on the penalty kill, including a short handed goal, and one for five on the powerplay against the Lightning.
New York Islanders
With the insertion of Kieffer Bellows into the Islanders lineup and the Isles winning both of those games. I cannot see the blue and orange making any changes in this one.
The Islanders did change up their defensive combinations last game. The back-end combinations were Leddy-Boychuck, Toews-Pulock, and Dobson-Mayfield. It will be interesting to see if they keep these lines or go back to the pairs they had for most of the season. Also, Scott Mayfield missed practice yesterday as part of a maintenance day.
In the first three games since the break, the Islanders have rotated goalies and Seymon Varlamov should get the start in this one.
The Islanders should line up like this:
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning may be forced to make a change after Ryan McDonaugh left Thursday's game early, due to an injury.
Where to Catch the Game:
TV: MSG+2, MSG Go, ESPN+
Radio: 88.7FM, 103.9FM, 1050AM