(7:30 p.m. ET, TV: FSN NY (ch. 72) | Radio: Bloomberg 1130) The Islanders will try to break out of their mini-slump tonight against the Southeast Division Florida Panthers.
The Islanders dropped back-to-back regulation losses when they fell to Ottawa 5-2 on Thursday, for the first time since January, but thanks to falters by teams close to them in the playoff race, they've maintained their position in the seventh spot along with Carolina. With only 12 games to play, the Islanders are four points behind sixth-place Tampa Bay and one point ahead of the Rangers and Toronto.
The Islanders continue their four-game road trip against the Panthers, who sit seven points back of a playoff spot, but still within striking distance.
It's been a few months since the teams last faced off on December 9th. In that contest, the Islanders came away with a 5-4 shootout victory. Miroslav Satan and Viktor Kozlov converted in the shootout, while Rick DiPietro stopped both shooters in the skills competition he faced and 28 of 32 shots in the game.
Andy Hilbert, Arron Asham, Radek Martinek and Satan scored goals in the game, while Mike Sillinger tallied two assists.
Since that game, there has been some changeover on the Panthers squad. Ed Belfour has taken over the reigns in goal and has played well, keeping Florida in the playoff hunt. Olli Jokinen still paces the team in goals and assists, but before the trade deadline, the Panthers let Gary Roberts go to the Penguins.
Besides Jokinen, the Panthers have a few talented forwards including the likes of Jozef Stumpel, Stephen Weiss and Nathan Norton.
The forwards, along with Belfour gave the Panthers a string of wins, but they've had two recent setbacks in the form of losses to Carolina and Buffalo this week.
Their most recent contest was a tough 5-3 loss to the Sabres. The Panthers tied the game at three in the third, but Buffalo countered with two goals for the victory.
Chris King and Steve Mears have the call on Bloomberg Radio 1130, while Howie Rose and Billy Jaffe can be seen tonight on FSN NY.
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CAREER NHL MILESTONES WITHIN REACH
- Viktor Kozlov is a goal away from tying his career-high of 22.
- Jason Blake is four games away from 500.
- Mike Sillinger is eight assists away from 300.
ON THE ROAD
The Islanders are in the middle of a four-game, nine-day-plus road trip, which has already taken them to Montreal and Ottawa. It will conclude on Tuesday at Tampa Bay vs. the Lightning. So far the team has a 0-2-0 record.
MONTH-BY-MONTH ON THE ROAD
Islanders 78 points, 3rd place, Atlantic Division
Florida - 71 points, 4th place, Southeast Division
Islanders Jason Blake, 35 goals, 61 points; Mike Sillinger, 29 assists; Brendan Witt, 119 PIM.
Florida Olli Jokinen, 31 goals, 38 assists, 69 points; Steve Montador, 108 PIM.
Islanders - Power play: 16.5 percent. Penalty killing: 79.4 percent.
Florida - Power play: 21.2 percent. Penalty killing: 81.4 percent.
Islanders Rick DiPietro (30-19-7, 2.59 GAA, .918 SV%); Mike Dunham (4-7-3, 3.31, .901)
Florida Ed Belfour (22-16-8, 2.74, .903); Craig Anderson (0-0-0, 0.00, 1.000)
Florida 20-11-4 at home
Islanders 15-15-5 on the road
1 Mike Dunham
39 Rick DiPietro
3 Tom Poti
6 Sean Hill
14 Chris Campoli
32 Brendan Witt
44 Freddy Meyer
47 Marc-Andre Bergeron
7 Trent Hunter
10 Richard Park
11 Andy Hilbert
18 Mike Sillinger
20 Richard Zednik
25 Viktor Kozlov
27 Randy Robitaille
45 Arron Asham
55 Jason Blake
79 Alexei Yashin
81 Miroslav Satan
94 Ryan Smyth
20 Ed Belfour
31 Craig Anderson
4 Jay Bouwmeester
5 Bryan Allen
7 Steve Montador
21 Alexei Semenov
24 Ruslan Salei
26 Mike Van Ryan
9 Stephen Weiss
11 Gregory Campbell
12 Olli Jokinen
13 Juraj Kolnik
15 Jozef Stumpel
16 Nathan Horton
18 Ville Peltonen
23 Martin Gelinas
46 David Booth
51 Rob Globke
77 Chris Gratton
85 Rostislav Olesz