Game Preview: NY Islanders vs Florida Panthers

Mar 24, 2024; Elmont, New York, USA;  New York Islanders center Bo Horvat (14) and New Jersey Devils
Mar 24, 2024; Elmont, New York, USA; New York Islanders center Bo Horvat (14) and New Jersey Devils / Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

The NY Islanders (30-26-15) are in sunny Florida to take on the Florida Panthers (46-21-5) for the final time this season.


The Islanders took on the New Jersey Devils for the final time this season on Sunday night on the second half of a back-to-back. The Isles fell 4-0 to their Eastern Conference rivals on home ice at UBS Arena. The Islanders have now lost 7 of their last 10 games and are quickly falling further and further out of the playoff race. After a solid first period where both teams played well and got a few chances, the Devils' special teams opened the scoring just 28 seconds into the second period. Timo Meier, with help from the Hughes brothers set the tone for the rest of the game. Jack Hughes got the Devils up 2-0 after a bad collision in the defensive zone between Bo Horvat, Noah Dobson and Kyle Palmieri. This left Mike Riley all alone to defend 4 Devils players, and Jack Hughes wasted no time shooting one past Ilya Sorokin. Alexander Holtz finished the second period with a goal after a great feed by Simon Nemec to make it 3-0. The Islanders tried to fight back during the third period, but were unable to get anything past Kaapo Kahkonen, giving him his first shutout of the season. Chris Tierney iced the game with an empty net goal for his third goal of the season. The Islanders went 0/5 on the powerplay, and outshot the Devils 36/30.

The Panthers last played on Tuesday as they took on the Boston Bruins at home. They lost 4-3 after Pavel Zacha scored the go ahead goal with a little over 2 minutes left to play in the third period. It was quite the intense game, with both teams getting over 15 penalty minutes and playing like it was the Stanley Cup Final. Evan Rodriguez struck first for the Panthers just 27 seconds into the first period. Boston tied the game at 1 thanks to Charlie McAvoy, but the Panthers still went into the second with a lead after Sam Reinhart scored his 51st of the season with a minute remaining in the period. David Pastrnak tied the game at 2 with the loan goal of the second period. Carter Verhaeghe scored the go-ahead goal for the Panthers to start the third period. While on the power play, Trent Frederick scored the game-tying goal for the Bruins. With a little over two minutes left to play, Pastrnak took a shot that deflected off of Zacha's skate and into the net. The Bruins and Panthers are currently batting for first place in the Atlantic Division, where the Panthers sit just two points behind the Bruins.


The Islanders and Panthers last faced off on January 27th where the Panthers beat the Isles in overtime 3-2. After a scoreless first period, where the Islanders outshot the Panthers 7-4. Reinhart scored on the power play to open the scoring in the second period, but Simon Holmstrom tied the game for the Isles with five minutes left in the period. Reinhart extended his point streak to 13 games with the opening goal. The Isles allowed yet another power play goal, this time by Matthew Tkachuk to regain the Panthers' lead. Palmieri tied the game at 2 with his 13th goal of the season and to send the game at UBS Arena into overtime. Almost 2 minutes into overtime, Oliver Ekman-Larsson beat Semyon Varlamov blocker side, coming in hot on a 2-on-1 with Rodriguez to win the game for the Panthers.


The newly formed Mat Barzal line has been hot recently, playing in between Anders Lee and Hudson Fasching. All three got at least two points in the Isles win over the Winnipeg Jets. Despite being held off the scoresheet against the Devils, these three have started gelling and finding chemistry in both ends of the ice. Barzal's speed and playmaking abilities seem to complement Fasching's speed and shot and Lee's strength in front of the net well. Varlamov will start in net for the Islanders, coming off of a strong win against the Jets. He is averaging 2.86 goals against and a .910 save percentage.

For the Panthers, Reinhart has 7 points (5G, 2A) in his last five games, and was only held off the scoresheet twice in his last 10 games. Brandon Montour had three assists versus the Philadelphia Flyers on March 24th, but was held off the scoresheet against the Bruins. Anthony Stolarz is set to start in net for the Panthers. Last time he faced the Islanders, the Panthers list 4-3 on December 2nd. He has 14 wins in 22 games and is averaging 1.97 goals against.



Brock Nelson - Bo Horvat - Kyle Palmieri
Anders Lee - Mathew Barzal - Hudson Fasching
Casey Cizikas - J.G. Pageau - Pierre Engvall
Matt Martin - Kyle MacLean - Cal Clutterbuck

Adam Pelech - Noah Dobson
Alexander Romanov -Robert Bortuzzo
Mike Reilly - Ryan Pulock

Semyon Varlamov
Ilya Sorokin


Evan Rodriguez - Aleksander Barkov - Vladimir Tarasenko
Carter Verhaeghe - Sam Bennett - Matthew Tkachuk
Eetu Luostarinen - Anton Lundell - Sam Reinhart
Nick Cousins - Kevin Stenlund - Steven Lorentz

Gustav Forsling - Aaron Ekblad
Niko Mikkola - Brandon Montour
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Dmitry Kulikov

Anthony Stolarz
Sergei Bobrovsky