The NY Islanders 5-4 OT victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday was a whirlwind of emotions from the moment the puck dropped. Outshot 43-16, the Islanders made the most of their limited opportunities while receiving stellar goaltending from Semyon Varlamov to keep the game from getting out of control. Mat Barzal put together a four-point night to follow up his three-point night on Tuesday. Bo Horvat opened the scoring for the Isles on the power play, followed by second-period goals from Simon Holmstrom and Pierre Engvall as the Isles were severely outplayed. Blowing a third-period lead, Kyle Palmieri gave the Isles a late lead once again before allowing the game-tying goal with 2.5 seconds remaining. Barzal's OT winner was the final nail in the coffin, as the Isles left Raleigh with two points they didn't necessarily deserve.
The Florida Panthers blew the doors off the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night, thanks to a four-goal third period. Aleksander Barkov opened the scoring in the second period with his seventh goal of the season. Heading into the third with a one-goal advantage, the Panthers dug their claws in early, as Sam Bennett scored just eight seconds into the period to double their lead. Goals from Evan Rodrigues, Carter Verhaeghe, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson put the game out of reach for the Habs.
The Isles and Panthers haven't squared off in nearly a year, playing their third and final game against one another on Dec. 23rd. The Panthers took the season series, winning two of three, with the Isles winning the most recent matchup. Despite heading into the first intermission down one, the Isles came out swinging in the second and third, backed by goals mostly from what are now former Islanders. Anthony Beauviller scored twice on the night, along with tallies from Zach Parise and Aatu Raty's first career goal. Ryan Pulock added one as well, with the Islanders claiming a 5-1 victory at UBS Arena.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Mat Barzal has been on quite the heater, totaling seven points in his last two games. He and Bo Horvat have continued to build chemistry and remain the Isles' greatest threats. The Isles power play has been clicking and will go as far as these two allow. The Panthers will look to have Barkov on the ice as often as possible with Barzal, as one of the league's top defensive forwards will look to stymie Barzal's hot streak.
Sa Reinhart has been one of the league's most dangerous players this season, tied for second in goals with 15. He only has two goals in his last seven games and will look to get back on track against an Islanders team that has allowed an absurd amount of opportunities to the opposition.
Mat Barzal - Bo Horvat - Simon Holmstrom
Pierre Engvall - Brock Nelson - Kyle Palmieri
Anders Lee - JG Pageau - Oliver Wahlstrom
Julien Gauthier- Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Noah Dobson - Scott Mayfield
Alexander Romanov - Ryan Pulock
Mike Reilly - Samuel Bolduc
Evan Rodrigues - Aleksander Barkov - Sam Reinhart
Carter Verhaeghe - Sam Bennett - Matthew Tkachuk
Eetu Luostarinen - Anton Lundell - Nick Cousins
Jonah Gadjovich - Kevin Stenlund - Ryan Lomberg
Gustav Forsling - Aaron Ekblad
Niko Mikkola- Brandon Montour
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Dmitry Kulikov