A pair of Eastern Conference teams take the ice in the Sunshine State on the first Saturday of the regular season slate searching for a win. The New York Islanders are on the road as they travel to face the Florida Panthers Saturday night. New York comes in off a season-opening 6-3 road loss to Carolina Thursday night. Florida upended Pittsburgh 5-4 in overtime at home Thursday night as they rallied from a late two-goal deficit. The Islanders are 7-2-1 in the last 10 meetings between the teams, including taking the qualifying round playoff series 3-1 to end the 2019-20 season. That was capped with a 5-1 victory on the road on August 7, 2020.
New York Islanders Hoping for Better Defensive ShowingNew York relied strongly on solid defensive zone play coupled with timely offense last season. That’s been Barry Trotz’s blueprint for an eternity, going back to his time with Nashville. As it turned out, the Islanders didn’t have a ton of success playing that style against Carolina in the opener and it showed clearly on the scoreboard. New York is going to hope that they can get back to their style of play instead of trying to adapt to the end-to-end style that the Hurricanes and to some extent, Florida likes to play. How successful they are in that regard will go a long way to determining how things will unfold here.
GOALLLLLLLLLLLL! pic.twitter.com/PyozHiT7Ee— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) October 14, 2021
Against Carolina, New York’s defensive zone play and goaltending were both subpar, which proved to be their undoing. The opening period saw the Islanders outshot 8-6 and they trailed 2-1 on the scoreboard after 20 minutes of play. Mathew Barzal opened the scoring with his first of the season at 7:23 off assists from Kyle Palmieri and Andy Greene to give the Islanders an early advantage. It didn’t last as the Hurricanes tied the game less than two minutes later and took a one-goal lead by the time the first period came to a close. The second period saw the Islanders outshot 22-14 with both teams scoring twice, leaving them down 4-3 after 40 minutes. Brock Nelson tied the game with his first of the year 52 seconds into the stanza off assists from Anthony Beauvillier and Josh Bailey. The Islanders gave up two unanswered goals to trail 4-2 before Anders Lee scored his first of the year at 14:20 off assists from Josh Dobson and Palmieri, to make it a one-goal game. That was as close as New York would get as they were outshot 11-8 in the third period and outscored 2-0 to put things out of reach. Ilya Sorokin made 35 saves for the Islanders, who were outshot 41-28, in the contest. He’s expected to get the start in goal again for this contest.
Florida Panthers Try to Build Off Rally, OT WinFlorida managed to come up with the win in their season opener at home against Pittsburgh but there were things that definitely need improvement. The Panthers were down a pair late in the third period before rallying to force overtime and then prevailed in the extra session. Florida can’t expect to trail by multiple goals in the third period and win on a regular basis so they are going to have to clean that up. The Panthers can ill afford to surrender nine power-play opportunities as they did in the game against the Penguins. On the flip side, they’d like to be better than the zero for six showing they had with the man advantage.
Carter starts it, Carter finishes it 👊 pic.twitter.com/nfDMsCd1y8— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) October 15, 2021
The Panthers played a wide-open style in the opener: that, along with penalties, nearly did them in against the Penguins. In the opening period, Florida held a 12-8 edge in shots on goal and took a 1-0 lead to the dressing room after 20 minutes of play. Carter Verhaeghe opened the scoring with his first of the season at 9:17 off an assist from Aleksander Barkov. In the second period, Florida was outshot 17-10 and outscored 2-1 to leave the game even after 40 minutes of play. Anthony Duclair gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead with his first of the season at 3:57 off assists from Gustav Forsling and Frank Vatrano. The Panthers gave up two goals later in the period to even the score. In the third period, Florida was outshot by a 20-15 margin with both teams scoring twice to send the game to overtime. After giving up two goals 30 seconds apart to trail 4-2, Aaron Ekblad got the Panthers within a goal with his first of the year at 13:29, unassisted, to start the comeback. Ekblad evened the score with his second of the game and the season, off assists from Jonathan Huberdeau and Owen Tippett, at 15:07. That sent the game to overtime. In the extra session, the Panthers held a 2-1 edge in shots and scored the game-winning goal for the two points. Verhaeghe scored his second of the game and the season at 1:37 off assists from Barkov and MacKenzie Weegar to give the Panthers the victory. Sergei Bobrovsky made 43 saves for the Panthers, who were outshot 47-39, in the victory. He is expected to get the start in goal again for this contest.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
This one is going to be a clash of styles. Florida can ill afford to take as many penalties as they did in the opener as the Islanders do have the firepower with the man advantage that can capitalize on such situations. The Panthers will look to force New York to play their style, much like Carolina did in the opening game of the season. On the flip side, New York is looking to shut things down and make things tougher for Florida to get into the offensive zone. The Islanders can’t give up the kind of chances they did to Carolina in the opener. Trotz is going to drill that into his team here. You can’t expect New York to give up a third-period lead like Pittsburgh did in the opener. Give the Islanders the slight advantage in this contest as they even their record.
Full-Game Total Pick
Each team saw nine goals on the board in their season opener, pushing their contests well over the mark. That’s not the style that the Islanders like to play as they are more intent on limiting the opposition’s scoring chances and, by virtue, their numbers on the scoreboard. The under is 7-2-1 in the Islanders’ last 10 games after allowing at least five goals in their previous game and 9-3-1 in their last 13 when their opponent scored at least five goals in their previous contest. In the last 12 meetings between these teams, the under has posted an 8-2-2 mark. Look for New York to control play a little more than they did Thursday night, keeping this one under the mark.