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Jack Capuano reflects on a strong game despite the Islanders losing Game 2 to Tampa Bay, 4-1.

The Islanders find themselves fortunate to be heading home to Brooklyn for Game 3 of their second-round series with the Tampa Bay Lightning tied at one, taking the home ice advantage away from last season's Stanley Cup finalists with a 5-3 victory in the opener before losing 4-1 Saturday.
Over the course of the two games in Florida, some disturbing numbers jump out when analyzing via The Lightning have outshot the Islanders 67-42, including 28-10 over the final two periods in Game 1 and 26-8 over the final two periods in Game 2. They have generated 59 scoring chances to New York's 41 (44-33 at even strength). Of those, 27 are considered 'high-danger scoring chances' to the Islanders 11 (22-8 5-on-5). Had it not been for some shoddy defending and a couple of soft goals allowed by Ben Bishop in the opener, in addition to some strong goaltending by Thomas Greiss, this is easily a 2-0 series for Tampa. 
But it isn't, and there are instances, hopefully such as these for New York, where you draw inspiration that maybe the puck is not always bouncing for the other team and you too can have the hockey gods smile favorably upon thee.

The way the Barclays Center erupted in Games 3, 4 and 6 of the opening-round against the Florida Panthers certainly has the Islanders feeling good about returning to their new home for three of the possible final five games of the series. 
The fans came out and supported their team remarkably, making Brooklyn feel more like Long Island of 2014-15. We learned that Barclays can put on a pretty good show and the building, contrary to some belief, emits decibel levels fairly well. The ice is still a work in progress, due to a shoddy sub-floor, but it certainly was no better in Florida this spring or even Amalie Arena over the course of the opening games in the Sunshine State. 
While New York draws upon the crowd, that will not be enough to defeat a team that is as well-coached, disciplined and experienced as the Lightning. The move by Jon Cooper to reunite his 'triplets' line from last year, featuring Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat, ran the Islanders ragged at even strength and produced two goals and two assists in Game 2. Victor Hedman rebounded to play a superb Game 2, logging 27:35 on the ice and neutralizing powerhouse Islanders star John Tavares

Two Islanders who have to pick up their game considerably are Brock Nelson and Kyle Okposo. Neither has been effective in the early going at Tampa and Nelson was alarmingly bad Sunday. Coach Jack Capuano said in a Sunday morning conference call that Josh Bailey was skating with the Sound Tigers and could be ready for Game 3 along with Ryan Pulock, who has been in regular practice the last couple of days. Pulock would almost certainly replace Marek Zidlicky, who has been slow defensively and has shown an almost unexplainable reluctance to shoot the puck on the power play.  
"At this point, now we're going back home, for sure there could be some (defense) changes or some line combination changes," Capuano said Saturday. "Absolutely." 
On Sunday, New York recalled six players on loan from the Sound Tigers, who were swept in the opening round of the Calder Cup playoffs by Tornoto. Goaltender Christopher Gibson, defenseman Scott Mayfield and forwards Bracken Kearns, Michael Dal Colle, Justin Florek and Marc-Andre Cliche made their way to the practice squad. None are expected to play, but rather gain valuable experience that could assist in their development. 
Make no mistake, if the Islanders play their best game, they can defeat the Lightning, who are more than a couple of steps up from the Florida Panthers team that New York conquered in round one. They had regular-season success against Tampa, winning two of three and chasing Ben Bishop twice. But the playoffs are an entirely different animal. And the Islanders, don't forget, are this deep in the tournament for the first time in 23 years. There are bound to be some lessons to be learned. 
If they learn them on the fly, they could find themselves playing for an entry into the Stanley Cup final. If they can't, an interesting summer awaits for a team that might look markedly different when training camp begins in September. 


New York Islanders center Alan Quine (10) looks down after they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in game two of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the New York Islanders 4-1. (Kim Klement)
New York Islanders center Alan Quine (10) looks down after they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in game two of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the New York Islanders 4-1. (Kim Klement)

Tyler Johnson had two goals and an assist and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the New York Islanders 4-1 on Saturday to even the second-round series at a game apiece.

Lightning goalie Ben Bishop rebounded after being pulled in second period of Game 1 to make 19 saves. He gave up four goals on 13 shots Wednesday night in a 5-3 loss.

Jonathan Drouin and Victor Hedman each had a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay.

Nikolay Kulemin scored for the Islanders, and Thomas Greiss 27 stopped shots.

Game 3 is Tuesday night in Brooklyn.

After Islanders teammates Cal Clutterbuck and Nick Leddy collided at the Tampa Bay blue line, the Lightning got an odd-man rush that resulted in Johnson's backhander that opened the scoring 6:03 into the game.

Johnson extended the Tampa Bay advantage to 4-1 with a late empty-netter. >> Read more

New York Islanders right wing Cal Clutterbuck (15) is congratulated after scoring an empty net goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period in game one of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. The Islanders defeated the Lightning 5-3. (Kim Klement)
New York Islanders right wing Cal Clutterbuck (15) is congratulated after scoring an empty net goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period in game one of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. The Islanders defeated the Lightning 5-3. (Kim Klement)

The Islanders will look to take a 2-0 series lead in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinals matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning at 3 p.m. at Amalie Arena. 

According to STATS...

  • After their 5-3 victory in Game 1, the Islanders have now scored at least three goals in each of their last six games (including playoffs) against Tampa Bay -- the longest active streak against the Lightning.
  • The Lightning have gone 5-6 all-time in best-of-7 playoff series after losing Game 1, including last year's Stanley Cup Final against the Blackhawks.
  • While the Islanders have gone 15-4 all-time in best-of-7 playoff series after winning Game 1, they have lost five consecutive Game 2's in best-of-7 playoff series after winning Game 1.
  • The Lightning have scored a total of just two power-play goals over their last 15 games (including playoffs) against the Islanders. Over that same stretch, the Islanders have scored a total of 13 special-teams goals against Tampa Bay.
  • Nikita Kucherov, who scored his sixth goal this postseason in Game 1 against the Islanders, had scored just one goal over his first nine career games against the Isles.
  • Shane Prince scored a pair of goals in Game 1 against the Lightning. Over the first 70 games of Prince's NHL career, he scored multiple goals just once (November 25, 2015 at Colorado).

 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Islanders D Ryan Pulock could return to the Islanders' lineup for Game 3 against the Lightning, reports Arthur Staple of Newsday.

Head coach Jack Capuano said that once Pulock is healthy, the team will have a tough decision to make.

"Looking at Game 1, there were some matchups that weren't in our favor," Capuano said Thursday, according to Staple. "Ryan's a big guy, he's got the righthanded shot and he helps our power play with that big shot of his. No doubt as we move forward, once he gets healthy, we have some tough decisions to make."

Pulock has been out since suffering an upper body injury during a collision in Game 4 of the first round against the Panthers. 

He had a goal and two assists in the first four games of the series against the Panthers.

Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter

Pulock played well down the stretch heading into the playoffs and had 1-2-3 in the four games against the Florida Panthers prior to his injury, which occurred when he was slammed into the boards at the end of game four by Garrett Wilson on a clean check.

While it's obvious that Pulock can help the Islanders' power play, which struggled in Game 1 against the Lightning's penalty kill (now 27 for 29 in the playoffs), the onus is really on New York to be able to find him the puck. Earlier in the regular season, we saw teams shifting purposefully to guard against the big Johnny Boychuk shot, and you can bet Jon Cooper and his staff will do the same when No. 6 is on the ice up a man.

Also, while it's true Marek Zidlicky struggled in Game 1 against the Tampa speed forwards, let's not forget that Pulock is not the strongest, at least for now, in his own zone and is also not blessed with blinding transition speed. He was a -3 with a 39.8 5v5 Corsi in the opening round against the Panthers (fourth worst on the team). Just tempering expectations is all -- don't shoot the messenger.

News coming out Friday morning from Nick Cotsonika is that Anton Stralman skated in full gear before practice and Cooper is still hopeful he can return this series. Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reported Steven Stamkos, Eric Condra and Mike Blunden did not skate Friday morning with the team.

The Islanders are skating at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Tags: Johnny Boychuk , Marek Zidlicky

 (Kim Klement)
(Kim Klement)

Wednesday night in Tampa, Florida, the New York Islanders continued their postseason run as they appeared in Game 1 of the second round of sports' best tournament for the first time in 23 years. Although much has been made of the drought, the game remains the same, however, no matter what round it might be.

The formula for playoff success has been tried and true over the course of the NHLs illustrious history. Get great goaltending, unexpected performances by previously unheralded players, be opportunistic and, lastly, get some good old fashioned puck luck.

The Islanders got every bit of those four things Wednesday night in their 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning -- one of last season's Stanley Cup finalists and the team possessing one of the three finalists for the 2016 Vezina Trophy as the league's best goaltender, Ben Bishop.

1 - Great goaltending? Check: Thomas Greiss was spectacular yet again. With the Isles leading 4-1 late in the second period, he made a tremendous right pad stop with about two seconds remaining on the clock to preserve the lead and send New York into the locker room with a lead that they would end up needing every bit of. The Lightning came at New York with everything they had in the third period, outshooting them 17-5 and out-chancing them 32-10. Greiss, once again, was up to the task, only allowing a goal to Nikita Kucherov that was almost unstoppable and a bad bounce off the stick of Valtteri Filppula.

Greiss has now won five of seven postseason starts with a 1.94 goals against average and .941 save percentage. With Jaroslav Halak still rehabbing a groin injury, but traveling with the team, there is no chance of a change in the Islanders crease for the foreseeable future. And there shouldn't be.

2 - Shane Prince / Ryan Strome: My colleague Brian Erni wrote about the impact Prince has had and it truly has been a revelation. Using his blazing speed and seemingly improving each shift, with his puck handling and shot, Prince now has three goals in seven playoff games after notching only six in 62 games during the regular season. His knack for finding space was on full display. With all the trade deadline acquisitions that took place this year, Prince is looking like the one most under the radar ones that will have the most impact for any team.

Strome, who was scratched in games five and six of the Florida series for poor play and perceived poor effort, came back into the lineup during Game 1 with Josh Bailey remaining on Long Island nursing an upper body injury. He set up both of Prince's goals on gorgeous passes, and even though Tampa Bay was set up in their practice defense at the time, it still doesn't guarantee success. You still have to make the dish. Strome did.

"I think any time you're in the lineup, you want to contribute. It was nice to chip in offensively, it's kind of my game. But more importantly, we got the win. It feels good to be a part of it and be on the ice, it's no fun sitting out, but we're rolling right now and there's a good vibe around the team right now. Tried to play with confidence out there and Princey popped those two in." Strome told MSG Network postgame.

3 - Opportunity knocks, open the door: Ben Bishop, as previously mentioned, is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. Regular season numbers against the Islanders aside, the playoffs are a different animal. This is a man who led this team to the finals last year with a 2.18, .921 line and shut the door on the Detroit Red Wings in round one. With his team lacking its offensive talisman in Steven Stamkos, he has delivered. But last night, he forgot to show up.

The goal he allowed to Travis Hamonic was brutal, as his team had just taken over the building, notching the first tally of the series. The Prince goals were more a result of horrendous defending by his teammates, but he was too deep on Prince's second tally -- the real back-breaker with three seconds left in period one. The goal he allowed to John Tavares, as gorgeous of a snapshot as it was, just cannot happen at that juncture.

New York took advantage of some bad goals allowed in round one by Roberto Luongo and that continued here in Game 1 of the second round. Opportunistic indeed.

4 - Puck bouncing in Isles direction: Puck luck can be a result of effort. The more effort you put out, the luckier you can or will be. But Wednesday night, New York hung on for dear life after the first period, getting outshot 28-10 and out chanced 50-20. The ice in Brooklyn has been talked about at length, but the ice in Florida and now Tampa has proven to be no better. Bounces can certainly turn a game.

So far, the puck has been bouncing in the Islanders direction. The Hamonic shot that trickled through Bishop, the puck that eluded Victor Hedman in the final minute, allowing Cal Clutterbuck to seal the game with an empty netter, the John Tavares game tying goal against Florida back in round one, the double overtime crossbar by Reilly Smith, also in round one. Sure, New York also hit two posts Wednesday night, but to say the sun has been shining in their direction more often than not would be an accurate statement.

"He's a great goaltender (Bishop). We just want to get pucks to the net," Isles head coach Jack Capuano said. "At the end of the day, he's going to bounce back. But whoever is in there, we have to get pucks and bodies to the net. Tonight, some of our shots had eyes. You need some puck luck in this game if you're going to win, and we got that tonight."

Keep it coming, hockey gods. Just keep it coming.

Tags: Cal Clutterbuck , John Tavares , Josh Bailey , Thomas Greiss , Travis Hamonic

 (Kim Klement)
(Kim Klement)

Shane Prince is using the playoffs to announce himself to the world.

Prince netted two goals for the Islanders in Game 1 against the Lightning en route to a 5-3 win for New York. With the score tied at one in the first, Prince found himself wide open and alone in front of the Tampa Bay net. Brock Nelson found him, and Prince beat Ben Bishop down low to give the Isles a 2-1 lead.

Then, with just 2.1 seconds left in the period, Prince took a feed from behind the net from Ryan Strome and picked the far top corner to extend the lead to 3-1.

The goals were Prince's second and third of the playoffs. In seven games, he has registered 15 shots on net and is a +3.

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

The reason I loved the Prince trade when it went down is that he's a young guy who shoots the puck a lot. Once again in Game 1, we saw just how effective that can be.

With Victor Hedman drifting in no-man's land, Prince showed great instincts to get to the net, and was rewarded on his first goal. But I was happier with the second one, which was simply a product of being decisive and taking a shot. If you throw enough pucks to the net, they'll find a home. Prince knew where he wanted to go with it, and it gave the Isles a valuable two-goal cushion. We saw a similar quick release from him on his goal in Game 3 of the first round, and it's leading to some very effective time on ice for the youngster.

I think the Isles love what Prince brings to the table, and it's hard to argue with the results to this point. If he can keep making Bishop uncomfortable in the subsequent games of this series, secondary scoring shouldn't be a problem.

Tags: Brian Erni

New York Islanders right wing Cal Clutterbuck (15) is congratulated after scoring an empty net goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period in game one of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. The Islanders defeated the Lightning 5-3. (Kim Klement)
New York Islanders right wing Cal Clutterbuck (15) is congratulated after scoring an empty net goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period in game one of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. The Islanders defeated the Lightning 5-3. (Kim Klement)

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

The Islanders have gone through plenty in just seven playoff games this postseason, but they're starting to discover that there is merit in paying your dues.

New York led 4-1 after two periods in Game 1, there wasn't a mind in Islanders country that wasn't racing, trying to push out the thoughts of a Tamp Bay comeback. The Isles withstood an 11-5 shots advantage in the second period, as the reigning Eastern Conference champions seemed determined to not let the opener of this series get away from them. The Isles, meanwhile, looked like they were just trying to cling to their early advantage.

"It's probably human nature," Travis Hamonic told reporters after the game. "Whether it's now or Game 10 in October, I think your first reaction when you have a lead is try to hold down the fort. Sometimes that turns around to play against you there. Part of the reason why, especially early in the game, we were so successful is that we just kept coming. We were coming at them and coming, every line."

Tampa had put Thomas Greiss under siege, forcing the Eric Hornick had the official attempts at 32-10 in Tampa Bay's favor in the third period, and 39-18 Tampa Bay after John Tavares put the Isles up 4-1. The eye test confirmed that in spades. Once Tampa got within two, they seemed to smell blood in the water, forcing Greiss to stand on his head to get the Isles across the finish. Greiss made an incredible stop on a wraparound chance with the knob his stick with just 10 minutes to play, and two huge blocker stops at point blank range in the closing minutes to highlight a 33 save night.

Needless to say, when Casey Cizikas broke out with the puck and slid it to Cal Clutterbuck, who emphatically hammered home the puck into an empty net with 55 seconds to play, a collective sigh of relief rang out from Park Slope to Port Jeff.

Game 1: Isles.

As your resting heart rate can certainly tell you, there are no easy wins this time of the year. Nearly every game requires a physical sacrifice. Just ask Jack Capuano, who took a puck to the face on the Isles bench in the third period. But Clutterbuck says that with every challenge - like falling into an early deficit for the sixth time this postseason - the Isles get stronger.

"There's a benefit to having gone through some things already this playoffs," Clutterbuck said of the early goal. "We gave one up in the first five minutes, same as we did in Game 1 last round, but we know we can come back so it's not an issue. We're learning what it takes to put the bad moments behind us."

The resiliency is a great sign, and it has my mind dreaming of what's possible the rest of this run. We heard so much about the Isles learning from their previous playoff experiences, and the promise of that seemed like that only thing that made that Game 7 loss to the Caps last year palatable. Now the payoff is finally here. Time will tell if they've learned enough to get themselves to the next step.

Tags: Cal Clutterbuck , Casey Cizikas , Thomas Greiss , Travis Hamonic , Brian Erni

 (Kim Klement)
(Kim Klement)

Shane Prince scored twice during a three-goal first period and John Tavares had a goal and an assist in the New York Islanders' 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series.

Taking up where he left off in helping the Islanders advance beyond the first round for the first time in 23 years, Tavares assisted on Travis Hamonic's goal that erased an early deficit and later scored his sixth postseason goal on a blistering shot from the left circle to give New York a 4-1 lead midway through the second.

The Islanders needed overtime to get three of four victories against the Florida Panthers in the opening round. This one was never seriously in doubt after New York wiped out the 1-0 lead Tampa Bay took on Ondrel Palat's goal just over three minutes into the game.

Tampa Bay pulled to 4-3 on third-period goals by Nikita Kucherov and Valtteri Filppula before Cal Clutterbuck's empty-netter sealed the victory in the final minute.

Thomas Greiss, who won one game in overtime and two in double overtime against Florida, finished with 33 saves for the Islanders. They were outshot 28-10 over the last two periods. >> Read more

Tags: John Tavares , Thomas Greiss

Islanders head coach Jack Capuano left the bench midway through the third period against the Lightning on Wednesday after getting hit in the face with the puck.

After getting hit, Capuano, who was bleeding badly, left for the locker room with his face in a towel.

He returned to the bench with roughly two minutes to go in the period after receiving stitches to the right side of his nose.

The puck that hit him was deflected at center ice by Ryan Strome on an attempted dump-in by the Lightning.

 (Andy Marlin)
(Andy Marlin)

The Islanders face the Lightning in Tampa in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Wednesday night.

According to STATS...

  • The Islanders beat the Panthers, 2-1, in double-overtime Sunday night, taking the matchup in six games, and earning their first series win since 1993 (vs. Pittsburgh). New York and Florida combined to play five overtime periods in the First Round -- the same total as all the other First Round series combined (pending tonight's Nashville-Anaheim game).
  • Tampa Bay finished off Detroit in five games in its First Round matchup, allowing two or fewer goals in each game. The Lightning, which did not allow a single first-period goal in their series against the Wings, are 3-0 at Amalie Arena during the 2016 postseason.
  • Including a split of two games in Tampa, the Islanders won two of the three meetings with the Bolts during the 2015-16 regular season. The Bolts won their only all-time postseason matchup with the Isles, 4-1, in the 2004 playoffs -- a series in which the first four tilts were decided by the same 3-0 margin.
  • John Tavares scored both of the Isles' goals in Sunday night's win, giving him a team-high nine points (5g, 4a) in the First Round. Tavares, who has 11 markers and nine helpers in his last 12 skates (dating to March 31), has 20 points (7g, 13a) in his last 15 games against the Lightning.
  • Nikita Kucherov led the Lightning in both goals (5) and points (8) in the First Round against the Red Wings. Kucherov and Tyler Johnson both have 30 points since the beginning of last year's playoffs -- tied with Patrick Kane for most of any skater.
  • Tampa Bay killed 96.0 percent (24-of-25) of Detroit's power-play chances in the First Round, leading all NHL clubs thus far in the 2016 playoffs. The Lightning had an 84.0 penalty-kill percentage during the 2015-16 regular season -- good for seventh best in hockey.
Tags: John Tavares

New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save against the Florida Panthers during the third period of game four of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Florida Panthers at Barclays Center. The Panthers won 2-1. (Andy Marlin)
New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save against the Florida Panthers during the third period of game four of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Florida Panthers at Barclays Center. The Panthers won 2-1. (Andy Marlin)

Yesterday, Brian Erni and I started breaking down the second round series between the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning, which begins tonight with Game 1 at Amalie Arena (7pm ET, NBCSN). 

Today, we continue by taking a look at where these teams stand defensively and in goal, the most important positions that will decide who advances to the Eastern Conference final against either the Washington Capitals or Pittsburgh Penguins.

Tale of the tape defensively

  NYI Tampa
GA 216 201
GA/G 2.57 2.41
SA 2496 2370
SA/G 30.4 28.9
S% 91.5 (10) 91.6 (8)
5v5 S% 92.6 (15) 92.9 (10)
5v5 HDSCA 775 (26) 688 (11)
FO 50.1 (16) 49.5 (20)
BS 1250 (6) 1154 (18)
Hits 2311 (2) 1910 (16)

Defensive roster

Islanders: Johnny Boychuk, Travis Hamonic, Calvin de Haan, Nick Leddy, Thomas Hickey, Marek Zidlicky, Thomas Greiss, Jean-Francois Berube - Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock (inj), Brian Strait (inj), Jaroslav Halak (inj).

Lightning: Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, Jason Garrison, Victor Hedman, Nikita Nesterov, Andrej Sustr, Ben Bishop, Andrei Vasilevskiy - Matt Taormina, Anton Stralman (inj), Mattias Ohlund (inj).

Defense first: Let's build a wall

Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter

The Islanders employed the old 'bend, but do not break' strategy in their opening round victory over the Florida Panthers. They absorbed tons of pressure, losing the 5-v-5 Corsi battle 389-323 and allowing 199 scoring chances. Johnny Boychuk, Calvin de Haan and Travis Hamonic were under siege from a big, fast and ferocious forecheck employed by Florida. This series will be a little different as the Lightning are not quite as big and physical, which should present New York with more clean breakouts - if they choose to take it, that is. There were moments where their ugly defensive zone play and inability to make what seem to be the simplest of clears reared their head in the opening round.

Marek Zidlicky came in for the injured Ryan Pulock and performed very well in Games 5 and 6, showing his playoff experience. He was calm and collected and assisted on Alan Quine's double OT winner in Sunrise. Pulock could be ready to play by Game 3 or 4 of this series.

For Tampa, it's going to all come down to the Hedman-Tavares matchup. Hedman has become a perineal Norris Trophy candidate. Size, speed, skill, physical play, special teams work - he really does it all. Anton Stralman and his experience is a loss for the Bolts but head coach Jon Cooper is hopeful he can return at some point during round two. The Islanders really need to work the second and third pairings of the Lightning. That is where they seem to be the most vulnerable.

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

Here's what I like most about this schedule for the second round: It gives the Islanders' defensemen some room to breathe. From what we saw out of Boychuk in the first round, I think it's pretty clear he's banged up, and Leddy and Hamonic both averaged 29 minutes in the series with the Panthers. The extra day off between all the first four games of this series should allow them to be a bit sharper, and that could help them shut down what is a very capable offense even without Stamkos.

Like Andy said, Tampa's defense isn't nearly as deep as New York's, and they'll have to exploit that. That means the secondary lines have to come through against Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, and the like. If guys like Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, and Nikolay Kulemin can contribute, it'll make that Tavares-Hedman match up loom not quite as large.

Goaltending: Last line of defense

Andy Graziano: What more can you say about Thomas Greiss? Remarkable, given he had 40 minutes of playoff experience coming into the first round, to produce a .944 save percentage in knocking out the Atlantic division champions. You simply can't win in the playoffs without hot goaltending and Greiss was spectacular. He gave New York a legitimate chance to win every single game. On the flip side, he faced 235 shots in six games (39 average) and was extended to overtime once and double overtime twice. Here's to Greiss holding up physically while maintaining his mental focus.

Ben Bishop had an outstanding regular season (2.06, .926) and was sharp in the first round (1.61, .950), but will be facing a much different offensive team in the Islanders, comparative to the Detroit Red Wings. Bishop struggled mightily against New York this season, dropping two of three games with horrendous peripherals (4.41, .842). At 6'7, it is so difficult to score on him clean that New York will have to focus on screens, second chances and cross ice opportunities. 

Brian Erni: For me, this is what the series come down to. If Greiss can replicate his first round performance, I think it will give the Isles enough chances to break through against Bishop. Florida's physicality resulted in tons of chances for the Panthers, and it required Greiss to be razor-sharp. But Tampa is a much smaller team, and if the Isles have their legs, Greiss shouldn't see quite as much pressure. If he stays aggressive and takes each shot one play at a time, I think he can stay on a roll.

That said, I think very highly of Bishop, and believe he has the ability to throw this Tampa club on his shoulders like he did last postseason. But like Andy eluded to, I do think there is a reason the Islanders have had success against him this season, and they'll be able to replicate that formula for offense.

The Predictions

Andy Graziano: This is a real tough series to call. Are the Islanders truly that Cinderella story this season that can go on a serious run? Or are they the team that was cycled to death 5-on-5 against the Panthers and spent what seemed like hours in their own zone? The Lightning, who went to the Final last year, have the Stamkos inspiration to draw upon as well. All things considered, I think Tampa makes the Isles pay for mistakes that Florida couldn't. Lightning in seven.

Brian Erni: I said at the beginning of the playoffs that I believed the Islanders would be the surprise team of the postseason, and that will include knocking off last year's Cinderella story. It's going to be a hard-fought series that could leave whatever team comes out on top as easy prey for Pittsburgh or Washington, but I think the Isles return to the Conference Finals for the first time since 1993. Islanders in seven.

Tags: Tampa Bay Lightning

GSN: Isles prepare for Bolts 00:01:34
The Islanders returned to practice ahead of their series opener with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the NHL playoffs.

The NHL has released the second round schedules for the Eastern Conference playoffs, featuring the New York Islanders against the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Washington Capitals.

Wednesday, Apr. 27, 2016: Islanders at Lightning, 7 p.m. ET

Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016: Islanders at Lightning, 3 p.m. ET

Tuesday, May 3: Lightning at Islanders, 7 p.m. ET

Friday, May 6: Lightning at Islanders, 7 p.m. ET

Sunday, May 8: Islanders at Lightning, TBD

Tuesday, May 10: Lightning at Islanders, TBD

Thursday, May 12: Islanders at Lightning, TBD

New York and Tampa will take 10 days to play the first four games of the series, with two separate two-day breaks, giving the players much needed rest and injury rehabilitation. What that means for the status of Ryan Pulock, Josh Bailey, Steven Stamkos, and Anton Stralman is unclear at this point.

What we do know is that attempting to get injury updates at this time of year proves to be a very meaningless task, as teams are not required to release any telling information. And they usually don't, especially for injuries that are not longer-term.

Islanders head coach Jack Capuano would give the press nothing Tuesday on Pulock (who skated in the morning) and Bailey (did not skate). Stralman is not skating, but head coach Jon Cooper is hopeful he can make an appearance in the series, while Stamkos did speak to Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times this morning.

"It's really just a waiting game now," Stamkos said. "Obviously you can't rush back to things of this magnitude. I'd say nothing has changed in that regard. I feel great, that's the tough part is feeling physically ready to play almost. But obviously with this type of injury and the blood thinners and stuff like that, you have to take your time."

The Islanders have repeatedly come out this season in afternoon games and games after extended breaks not playing their best hockey. I'm not sure if that is a true concern or not, but certainly bears mentioning. The players in the locker room and Capuano, after some of those efforts, have said they are a team that likes to play more of a 'normal' schedule to stay sharp.

We will see if this has any effect on the series. Being completely honest, if New York were to lose, the schedule would not be any kind of a legitimate excuse anyway. It will be a combination of their play and Tampa's on the days the games are played that will dictate the result. Nothing more should be expected or wanted, anyway.

Tags: Josh Bailey

On this week's show, Brian Compton and Mike Carver look back at the Isles' thrilling series victory over the Florida Panthers.

The guys discuss the double-OT wins in Games 5 and 6, John Tavares' superstar-caliber play, Thomas Greiss' heroics in net, and the wild and crazy fans at the Barclays Center on Sunday night.

Plus, Eric Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune calls in to preview the second round between the Isles and Lightning. 

Tags: John Tavares , Thomas Greiss

New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) sets up in front of the Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo (1) during the second period in game six of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. The Islanders defeated the Panthers 2-1 to win the series four games to two. (Andy Marlin)
New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) sets up in front of the Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo (1) during the second period in game six of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. The Islanders defeated the Panthers 2-1 to win the series four games to two. (Andy Marlin)

The New York Islanders are in unfamiliar territory. It had been 23 years since they have advanced past the first round of the NHL playoffs, a feat they accomplished by winning consecutive double overtime games, both by 2-1 scores, to eliminate the Florida Panthers in six games.

Things don't get any easier from here forward. New York will now be playing one of last year's Stanley Cup finalists, the Tampa Bay Lightning, who despite having fewer points in the regular season (100-97), will start the series at Amalie Arena in Tampa tomorrow evening.

Both teams come in with some issues, both in their play and on the injury list. Statistically, they match up, maybe surprisingly, fairly even, as the Islanders and Panthers did. But this series will go way beyond statistics and 'fancy stats'. The team that wants it more will be the team advancing to the Eastern conference final. The team who pays more of a price will get rewarded.

Today, it's the forwards. Tomorrow, defense and goaltending followed by our fearless predictions.

Tale of the tape

  Isles Tampa
Record 45-27-10 46-31-5
Home 25-11-5 25-13-3
Away 20-16-5 21-18-2
GF 232 227
GA 216 201
PP 18.3 (17) 15.8% (28)
PK 84.5 (4) 84.0 (7)
SA Corsi 49.8 (18) 52.7 (6)

Season series

Nov 28, 2015 @ Amalie: Islanders 3, Lightning 2

March 25, 2016 @ Amalie: Lightning 7, Islanders 4

April 4, 2016 @ Barclays: Islanders 5, Lightning 2

Playoff series history

2003-04 ECQF: Tampa 4, Islanders 1

Regular Season Leaders:

Goals: Islanders - Tavares (33) Lightning - Stamkos (36)

Assists: Islanders - Okposo (42) Lightning - Hedman (37)

Points: Islanders - Tavares (70) Lightning - Kucherov (66)

Goaltenders: Islanders - Greiss 2.36,.925 Lightning - Bishop 2.06, .926


Islanders: Josh Bailey, Mikhail Grabovski, Jaroslav Halak, Anders Lee, Ryan Pulock, Brian Strait

Lightning: J.T. Brown, Mattias Ohlund, Steven Stamkos, Anton Stralman

The Forwards: Depth to be tested


Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter

Captain John Tavares was on fire in round one, putting the team on his back in Game 6 and simply not allowing them to lose. He had 5-4-9 in the six games and has been spectacular over the course of the past four weeks. Kyle Okposo still rides shotgun and led New York in helpers against Florida, while Frans Nielsen was split up from the trio late in the series to provide defensive support.

With Josh Bailey likely out the first two games of the series, at least, look for Ryan Strome to get yet another opportunity to turn around what's been a very frustrating season for the youngster. Alan Quine has been a revelation, as has Shane Prince, but New York will need a lot more out of Brock Nelson and Nikolay Kulemin than they are currently getting.

Steve Bernier was inserted into the lineup for Games 5 and 6, and his previous playoff experience really showed. Was one of Islanders better forwards in an all-around capacity on Sunday. The fourth line started playing as expected later in the Florida series and might have to be the difference makers by outplaying the Bolts bottom three.

For Tampa, Nikita Kucherov has officially arrived. At 22, the young Bolts dynamo finished up a season of 30-36-66 before dismantling the Red Wings on 5-3-8 in a five game series win. He has already proven to be a big time player after collecting 10-12-22 in 26 playoff games last season en route to the final. But make no mistake about who he IS NOT, however. And that is Steven Stamkos, the Lightning captain and leading goal scorer, who will miss the series after having a blood clot in his arm removed.

Tyler Johnson recovered from a scary hit late in the regular season against Montreal and is just getting over a flu bug that swept through the Tampa room but posted 2-5-7 against Detroit.

The bigger question remains - can Tampa get enough scoring (12 goals in 5 games opening round) from their secondary players. It's asking an awful lot of Ben Bishop to continue to win 1-0, 2-1 games. Especially if the Bishop we saw in the regular season in games versus New York shows up (4.41, .842).

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

I'm actually really bullish on Kulemin this series. I thought he was fantastic in Game 6, nearly tying it in the third just before Tavares did, and he created a few good chances in the overtimes. If Kulemin can be a factor, and if the Isles keep getting contributions from guys like Quine, that should really help their secondary scoring efforts.

Obviously, Tampa is reeling a bit without Stamkos, so scoring is a concern for the Lightning as well. Kuckerov has proven himself to be a fantastic postseason player, but it absolutely helps New York that they'll be able to game plan for him without factoring in Stamkos. That in and of itself can give the Isles an edge. I know lots of people are pointing to Jonathan Drouin's emergence in the first round, but if we're going to take points off the Isles for having some inconsistent young forwards, why should we overlook that in Drouin's case? Personally, I'm more worried about Ryan Callahan, whose playoff experience can often be a major factor in a series that I expect to be very tight like this one.

The x-factor to me is Strome, and how he responds from the benching. Strome has said in the past that he's the type of player that responds to a figurative kick in the tail, and he certainly got one in the first round, maybe undeservedly so. Remember how much of a factor Strome's shot was last year against Washington? If he plays decisively, he could be an unexpected source of offense. 

Tags: Tampa Bay Lightning , Andy Graziano , Brian Erni

Daily News Live: Islanders 00:02:36
The Daily News Live panel reacts to the Islanders double-overtime win, and advancing to the second round for first time since 1993.

 (Andy Marlin)
(Andy Marlin)

The text came in about an hour after the jubilant on-ice celebration ended. The one that was ignited by John Tavares, who tucked the series winner past Roberto Luongo. 'New York Islanders tomorrow' it read…'DAY OFF.'

No meetings, no practice…just a day at home with family and friends to re-charge the batteries after two straight double overtime thrillers saw New York eliminate Florida four games to two, setting up a second round matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You can't say they didn't earn this one. From the coaching staff, led by bench boss Jack Capuano, to Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen, among others, who have been here since the middle of the 'lean years,' to game four hero Alan Quine, who was just a month ago playing in the American Hockey League, the Islanders accomplished more than just winning a hockey game Sunday night.

1.) First series win in 23 years, first back to back playoff wins in 14 years: This was a magical moment for the players and especially, the fans. The older generation of fans was taken back to a special moment that, until Sunday night, only existed in their memories. The newer generation -- anyone under 28 years old, really -- experienced this feeling for the first time in their entire rooting life. I wrote about making new memories yesterday in this space. Mission accomplished

Tavares even took the time postgame not to revel in his own accomplishment, basically putting the team on his broad shoulders, but point out how much the fans have suffered, as he spoke to

"They've waited a long time," Tavares said. "I've been here a long time. It's obviously time for us to get over this hump. It's no secret we want to keep this going. This isn't good enough for us. Obviously it's a great feeling and very rewarding, but we want to keep this going for them."

2 - Obviously, the Greiss was right: When this series was being reviewed prior to the puck dropping on Game 1, one of the things most pundits pointed out in their almost unanimous selection of Florida advancing was the 'mismatch' in goal between Thomas Greiss and Roberto Luongo. And, being honest, it had validity. Greiss, never a starter and never having played more than 25 games and 40 minutes of playoff hockey, appeared in 41 games (38 starts). His play dipped after Jaroslav Halak was injured.

However, a funny thing happened in round one. He dominated the matchup, finishing with a 1.79 goals against average and .944 save percentage. He stole Game 1 with a game-saving stop on Jaromir Jagr and personally took Game 5, stopping a penalty shot in overtime. He allowed four goals over the last three games of the series and believe it, the Panthers had many glorious looks. It wasn't as if the Islanders defense, which bent but didn't break, was dominating in limiting scoring chances.

3 - The arrival of playoff John Tavares: Tavares is the hardest-working Islander on the team, on and off the ice. There really is no disputing that. He is also more of a silent leader, choosing to lead by example rather than utilizing rah-rah type speeches in the locker room. Some, myself included, have sometimes felt that a more vocal, stern captain is what this team needed. Maybe not.

His point production was down 16 from last season (86-70) and he was inconsistent at times, collecting 5-8-13 over 22 games in December and January. But did he ever put this team on his back and will them to a series win.

"He's one of the best players in the league," right wing Kyle Okposo said to "He works so hard, and to have the season he did, it wasn't the way that he wanted to play all season, but I think the last four weeks have really shown how hard we works and he deserves it."

His final stat line will read 5-4-9 in the six game series, averaging 25:17 of ice time, with 30 shots and a 58.7 face off percentage. But Sunday night was the perfect show of leading by example. Since pee-wee, anyone (including myself), who has ever played this great game was taught some very simple, basic lessons. They included two that Tavares went back to Sunday night to get his team over the hump -- drive the net and follow your shots.

It's almost as if he said to himself, 'if we're going to win this game, it's got to be back to basics. Let me show them what I mean'. An incredible performance when the lights shined their brightest.

4 - Barclays go boom: When Brett Yormark met with members of the media, yours truly included, two weeks prior to the end of the regular season for his state of the union, he mentioned how vital it was for the Islanders to not only make the playoffs, but succeed in them. With the initial complaints surrounding Barclays now out of the way, they showed how far they have come in pregame and in-game game operations, putting on a more than respectable showing, not unlike any other arena has, in their rookie season.

And the fans...what can I say? They brought the noise and the excitement level from Uniondale to Brooklyn and really made it feel like home. The roof was coming off at times during Game 3, but nothing like the celebration the Tavares goal kicked off in Game 6, which carried over into the plaza afterwards. The team clearly responded to their exuberance and much more is going to be needed as they face the Lightning.

Enjoy it, Islanders fans. You deserve it. But also take this time to restock the refrigerator and change the batteries in the defibrillators.

As for the players, they know their work is not done. On Tuesday it's back to the grind as preparations begin. Not for golf or a Caribbean vacation, but round two.

Tags: Andy Graziano

 (Kim Klement)
(Kim Klement)

Ryan Strome wasn't thrilled with being stuck in the press box when the Islanders clinched their first playoff series in 23 years.

"It sucks," Strome told reporters prior Game 6 of being scratched. "You want to be there for your teammates, and you think that you can contribute and you want to give it your best. … It definitely sucks, but you got to be a team guy. We've done this as a group all year, and we're going to continue to do it now."

Strome had a goal, an assist, and was a +3 in Games 1 through 4 of the first round. He took eight shots in the four contests he played, an effort he thought was enough to warrant staying in the lineup.

"Certainly didn't see it coming, not going to lie and say that I did," Strome said. "I thought I'd been playing pretty good hockey. Definitely more of where I wanted to be compared with the regular season, [but] it's their decision and I have to live by it and hopefully I get another chance and can contribute. There's not really much I can say. You just want to try and stay positive. It's not really a time to have an ego, especially in the media and start to complain or anything."

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

Frankly, I'm not sure Strome deserved the benching, either. I thought he was really good in the four games he played, and I was encouraged by how much he was shooting the puck.

Steve Bernier stepped into the lineup and played extremely well, so it's hard to really grit your teeth about the decision too much. But it's time for Strome to get off the deck, because the Isles are going to need him in their matchup against the Lightning.

Josh Bailey left toward the end of the first period and did not return, so if Bailey can't go, the Isles will need to shuffle the lineup again. Obviously, they'll have to make adjustments elsewhere, since Bailey is a left-handed shot and Strome a righty, but it's clear that this injury could open up an opportunity for Strome to reingratiate himself with Jack Capuano.

Like Strome said, now is not the time to have an ego, so when the Isles get to Tampa, they'll need the 22-year-old to shake it off and step up. He can be a difference maker when he's playing his game, and I hope this motivates him to elevate it to an even higher level.

Tags: Ryan Strome , Brian Erni

 (Andy Marlin)
(Andy Marlin)

John Tavares may have been the difference on the score sheet, but two Islanders defensemen made big plays the set the stage for the captain's heroics.

With a minute remaining in regulation, Nick Leddy made an incredible end-to-end rush up ice to force a shot on net. That allowed Nikolay Kulemin to get a chance in front that Luongo made a spectacular save, but the puck stayed loose, and Tavares cashed it in to tie the game, 1-1.

Then, with just under 10 minutes remaining in double overtime, Marek Zidlicky made a great positional play to regain the puck after Florida had dumped it deep in the Isles' zone. On the ensuing Islanders possession, Tavares scored the winner to send New York to the second round for the first time since 1993.

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

First, the game doesn't get to overtime without Leddy's clutch, miraculous rush. The Islanders were having trouble getting Tavares on the ice because the Panthers had possession in New York's zone.

What's more, they were within inches of putting the puck into an empty net, but Leddy not only helped make the defensive play to push it wide, but then circled around the net, used his speed to dart up the near side, and force a backhander on Luongo. The Isles got a few wacks and it, then Tavares -- who finally made it on and made a beeline toward the crease -- eventually cashed it in.

Then, in overtime, I was so impressed by Zidlicky. He still had plenty left in his legs midway through the double overtime, having played the least amount of minutes (21:33) of the blue liners. Still, he's 39 years old, so how much he was going to have in the tank that late into his second consecutive double OT game was up for debate.

Zidlicky used that burst he had left to make an incredible positional play along the end boards and neutralize the Panthers' dump in. That led directly to the transition that allowed Quine to feed Kyle Okposo, who sprung Tavares. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Without these two big time plays by the Isles' defensemen, New York is headed to the East Coast of Florida for a Game 7. Instead, they're on their way to the Gulf Coast to open a series with the reigning Eastern Conference champions.

Tags: John Tavares , Kyle Okposo , Marek Zidlicky , Nick Leddy , Nikolay Kulemin

 (Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports Images)
(Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports Images)

John Tavares tied it in the final minute of regulation and got the winner at 10:41 of the second overtime, leading the New York Islanders past the Florida Panthers 2-1 Sunday night and into the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

Tavares skated in and fired an initial shot that Roberto Luongo saved, but the New York captain got the rebound, wrapped around the net and stuffed the puck in to end the longest home game in Islanders history.

The Islanders will next face Tampa Bay.

Thomas Greiss finished with 41 saves in the teams' second straight two-overtime game and third in the series to go past regulation. The Islanders won Game 3 here 4-3 in the first extra period, and took Game 5 in Florida 2-1 at 16 minutes of the second OT.

Jonathan Huberdeau scored late in the first period for Florida. >> Read more

Tags: Florida Panthers , John Tavares , Thomas Greiss

Thomas Greiss' hot goaltending has the Islanders on the verge of a playoff series win. (Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports)
Thomas Greiss' hot goaltending has the Islanders on the verge of a playoff series win. (Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports)

Notice there's nothing in the adage of a hot goaltender leading a deep playoff run needing to be the starter. And after 21 seasons of occasionally peeking their heads into the playoffs, the New York Islanders aren't about to be picky with qualifications.

It's not the goalie they thought it'd be maybe even six weeks ago, but few Islanders fans will be checking the progress of Jaroslav Halak prior to Sunday night's Game 6 against the second-seeded Florida Panthers. Rather, it's Thomas Greiss who has the Islanders in position to reach the second round for the first time since 1993.

The wild-card Islanders can clinch before a home crowd that tuned in with sweaty palms for Friday's 2-1 double-overtime win in Florida. They lost in seven games to Washington last season and in six to Pittsburgh in 2013 for their only playoff appearances since '07.

"This is the first time we're going back with three wins and a chance to close it out at home," Frans Nielsen told the team's website after scoring his third goal of the series in the first period Friday. "Hopefully we're going to come out and respond the right way."

Read more. . . .


rad more

Islanders fans are looking for New York to clinch their series with the Panthers in Game 6 Sunday at the Barclays Center. (Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports)
Islanders fans are looking for New York to clinch their series with the Panthers in Game 6 Sunday at the Barclays Center. (Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports)

Islanders look to provide fanbase with new memories


When you really think about it, the 'older' Islanders fan is fortunate. Fortunate to have witnessed a dynasty win four straight Stanley Cups over five consecutive appearances. Fortunate to have seen such great players such as Denis Potvin, Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, Bob Nystrom and Clark Gillies among many, many more. Fortunate to have seen the old, dilapidated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum at its best, literally shaking on its foundation. (trust me, for I am old, as loud as it was last year, there was a little more in it).

The new generation of Islanders fan has been much less fortunate. From ownership follies to 10 head coaches, they have had to endure losing season after losing season, with five of the last 20 seeing the team collect less than 40 percent of all possible points, hitting rock bottom in 2001 (21-51-7). They had gone from hoping the team would actually make some noise in the NHL regular season and into the playoffs to projecting their next top five pick by December.

The tide has turned the last four seasons, however. Under the guidance of coach Jack Capuano and with Garth Snow making decisions at the top, New York has gone 150-109-35 for 57 percent of all possible points (15th overall in NHL), finding themselves in the postseason for the third time over that same span. Still not an upper-echelon team for sure, but consider that for the four-year period prior to the aforementioned sample size, they ranked 28th in overall points. The improvement has been evident, even if some in the mainstream hockey media refuse to regularly acknowledge it.

Sunday night, at the team's new home in Brooklyn, they have an opportunity to accomplish something likely no fan under 28 (unless you were watching and understanding the game and fandom at five) has ever seen. A Stanley Cup playoff series victory.

Leading the Florida Panthers 3-2 in their best-of-seven first round matchup, courtesy of a double overtime winner by Alan Quine in game five, goalie Thomas Greiss will lead his team onto the ice at Barclays Center looking to eliminate a pesky, tough and fast Panthers team that has, arguably, had the better of play in each game of this series. It's really been on the narrow playoff shoulders of Roberto Luongo that New York has won its three games, but at this point, that honestly doesn't even matter. What matters is getting to four wins, no matter how you get there.

The team knows the significance of this evening, but from comments made to Newsday, don't appear to be letting it affect how they are preparing for it.

"It isn't over, far from it, and we have to treat this like it's an important game, but only because it's the next one," John Tavares told Newsday on Saturday just the team returned from Florida. "We know from experience on both sides of it that the fourth one is the hardest one to get. We know we have a great opportunity at home, in front of our fans, and we want to take advantage of that."

The captain has not always been the 'rah-rah' type to berate the dressing room or scream and shout when things are not going well. The thinking is sometimesthe Islanders need that kind of leadership. The room has always been described by the team themselves as being 'quiet and professional' with the prevailing comment being 'we know what we have to do, nobody has to say it'. Nothing from any source indicates otherwise.

Two weeks before the end of the regular season, when the Islanders were skidding to the finish line, they had a closed-door players-only meeting, as Matt Martin told IPB. The safe assumption was there was not much yelling then, either.

Will that calm, cool demeanor result in an Islanders victory Sunday? Will it change the course of history for the younger fanbase and provide the older ones with brand new memories in their new home?

For that to happen, I know one thing for sure. The fans, who have certainly brought their excitement and passion to Barclays in Games 3 and 4, need to take it up another level, maybe to a level they didn't even know they had. The players notice and feed off it, using it for the energy they will require to close out a team as pesky as the Panthers have shown to be.

As Tavares noted when talking to Newsday: "The first two games blew us all out of the water. The Coliseum was something special, but in our new home, our fans had a real sense of pride and brought that over from last year."

With that, all the talk should be over. Just drop the damn puck already.

New York Islanders center Shane Prince (11) celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with New York Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan (44) and center Alan Quine (10) during the second period of game three of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner)
New York Islanders center Shane Prince (11) celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with New York Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan (44) and center Alan Quine (10) during the second period of game three of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner)

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

Islanders history will remember Friday night's Game 5 fondly, but it wasn't without its moments that tested our faith, and it took the unlikeliest of heroes to get the job done.

The Islanders were awarded their second power play of double overtime, but they had just 40 seconds remaining on it when Marek Zidlicky and Thomas Hickey played catch with the puck at the point.

"You get that second [power play] and you're thinking, are they going to get one next?" Jack Capuano said after the game, according to Newsday's Arthur Staple. "You have to take advantage."

It was a question that was probably racing through every Islanders fan's mind. I know it was in mine. It was time to cash in. Now or never. But who would step up and be the hero?

Turns out, the very last combination of players anyone expected.

As the defensemen played catch at the line, I reeled a bit. Just seven seconds earlier, Alan Quine had an entire empty side of the net open and just couldn't get his stick down in time. I worried that's what history might have said had the Isles not kept possession after that chance. Fortunately for the New York, the 23 year old, who wasn't even a glimmer in most fans' eye two weeks ago, took history into his own hands.

Zidlicky got the puck back from Hickey, pumped, then fed a pass toward the top of the right circle. Quine waited, with his stick cocked and ready to fire. He did not miss.

As households from Brooklyn to Bay Shore exploded in jubilation, it's easy to forget that it was just two weeks ago that Quine scored his first career NHL goal in meaningless game against the Buffalo Sabres.

Quine, who it seemed had just been up to fill out a lineup intended to give the Islanders regulars some rest, has now joined Ken Morrow and Mike Bossy as the third rookie to score for the franchise in overtime. To say this all seemed unlikely is an understatement.

Then, as I watched replay after replay this morning, my eyes bleary and my mind delirious, I looked around the ice. After Quine just missed ending it, Josh Bailey and Nikolay Kulemin, two much-maligned players in the opening games of this series, won a big battle along the far wall. I'm sure the fact that these two were even on the ice in overtime elicited plenty of moans from the Islanders faithful. But give them credit: since Game 2, they've both stepped their [stuff] up.

That got the puck back to Hickey, who already had been an unlikely hero in this series. He exchanged with Zidlicky, who used his veteran craftiness to get Quine some space, and force Roberto Luongo to pause for just a second. That savvy play is what comes with the 39-year old Zidlicky, who certainly would have taken in this epic from the press box had Ryan Pulock not gone down in Game 4.

Quine ripped one, and the Isles had beaten Luongo and the Panthers in overtime again. They have moved within one win of advancing in the playoffs for the first time since 1993, and for the second time this series, it was because the guys we never expected to come through in the clutch stepped up when it mattered most.

Tags: Florida Panthers

New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save on a penalty shot by Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (not pictured) in the first overtime of game five of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at BB&T Center. (Robert Mayer)
New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save on a penalty shot by Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (not pictured) in the first overtime of game five of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at BB&T Center. (Robert Mayer)

Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter

1993...That was the last time the New York Islanders held a 3-2 game series lead in a round of the NHL playoffs (first round against Washington). After winning a Game 5 for the first time in 11 previous tries last night in Sunrise, Florida, outlasting the Panthers 2-1 in double overtime, this ragtag bunch of scrappers look to write their own history in Brooklyn after winning the second longest overtime game in Islanders history.

The Islanders, per chief statistician Eric Hornick, have hosted a Game 6 at home with the chance to clinch a series six times in their illustrious past. They have won all six. Now, if you are truly the superstitious type, you would be alarmed at all the sixes showing. Good thing I am not as I write this column, as the walls in my home have not yet collapsed and, for now at least, I seem to be safe.

Remember all the concerns entering this series about the goaltending matchup? Every major publication, website, pundit, etc…had the Florida Panthers winning this series, some even as early as five games, based on the supposed mismatch between Thomas Greiss and Roberto Luongo. That has not panned out, to this point, as some tried to foresee.

Greiss had 40 minutes of playoff experience entering this series. 40...He now has the Islanders within one game of their first playoff series win in 23 years. And make no mistake, without him, New York is not in the enviable position they currently find themselves in. A 2.18 goals-against average thus far is great but nothing tells the story more than a sparkling .938 save percentage. See, you cannot win in the NHL playoffs without good goaltending. You simply cannot.

As good as he has been, he clearly saved his best for last night. The Panthers again dominated play, especially 5-on-5, and led New York in shot attempts over 96 minutes of grueling hockey, 96-68, with 48 of those landing on target. And none were more crucial than in the first overtime, when Calvin de Haan closed his hand on the puck just outside the blue paint, leading to a penalty shot opportunity for sniper Aleksander Barkov.

As much as Barkov zigged and zagged, Greiss stayed with him and thrust out his left pad, denying the Panthers the game winning goal, giving his team yet another opportunity to seize the moment. And seize it they did with the help of Roberto Luongo, who whiffed on Alan Quine's medium range slapper from just off the right wing boards at the 16-minute mark of the second overtime. Luongo, with a .917 save percentage in the series, has made some quality stops himself, but to be perfectly honest, New York has won their three games on weak efforts by the Florida netminder.

Looking for a juicy quote from Greiss? You won't get it. I have been around a number of goaltenders in my four years covering the Islanders, in both locker rooms. Greiss is one of the most even keeled ones I have ever spoken with. Always calm and reserved, he never seems to get rattled. Good game or bad game, he always maintains the same temperament. "It's one of those games where puck just finds you. "In the last couple of games the puck just bounced in." he said postgame. "Every goalie is used to those situations... (My heart rate) was the same as during the game."

Yep, that's all you're going to get out of Greiss. That's just what you need as a goaltender in the NHL playoffs - a steely resolve and a calm demeanor. If the Islanders follow their goaltender's lead, they could win a series in which they have been badly dominated in stretches, but have found a way (Florida has led for 38 percent of the series to the Isles 13 percent).

Found a way to outlast. Found a way to stay with it. Found a way to win.

Now to go out and find it again.


The healthy scratch of Ryan Strome last night was deserved. Save for a brief glimpse, the Islanders youngster has been a shell of himself during his second pro season. Already sent to Bridgeport after a couple of discussions during training camp, he has not responded to being called out by Jack Capuano a couple of weeks prior to the end of the regular season.

Continuing on that, neither has Josh Bailey, who looks tentative nor lacking any confidence at all. He seems to be skating in mud, is not executing in any zone and is having a dastardly time just clearing the puck. He could be next in line to receive the press box pass, you would think as early as game six.

Nikolay Kulemin got the message, even though he was spared the public wrath. He was much more active last night and dogged on the forecheck. Marek Zidlicky (23:45) and Steve Bernier (20:21 plus nine hits) were also both very effective making their series debuts. With a combined 115 games of playoff experience between them, both should remain in the lineup as Jack Capuano continued to push mostly all the right buttons in this series.

Hornick's fantastic "The Skinny" contributed to this column

Tags: Thomas Greiss

New York Islanders center Alan Quine (10) celebrates his game winning goal against the Florida Panthers with left wing Josh Bailey (12) defenseman Marek Zidlicky (28) and left wing Nikolay Kulemin (86) in the second overtime of game five of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at BB&T Center. The Islanders won 2-1. (Robert Mayer)
New York Islanders center Alan Quine (10) celebrates his game winning goal against the Florida Panthers with left wing Josh Bailey (12) defenseman Marek Zidlicky (28) and left wing Nikolay Kulemin (86) in the second overtime of game five of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at BB&T Center. The Islanders won 2-1. (Robert Mayer)

Alan Quine scored on a power play at 16 minutes of the second overtime, Thomas Greiss stopped 47 shots and the Islanders beat the Florida Panthers 2-1 on Friday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.

Roberto Luongo made 40 saves for Florida, which missed a penalty shot in the first overtime and was whistled for two penalties in the second overtime.

The Isles' second OT power play came when Derek Mackenzie was called for slashing at 14:31, and that would be the break New York finally needed. Quine's blast from the right side beat Luongo, and the Islanders swarmed the ice in celebration.

It was the second overtime game of the series, the other being New York's home win in Game 3. Exclude Florida's empty-net goal that sealed Game 2, and all five games of this matchup between 100-plus-point regular-season clubs has been of the one-goal variety. >> Read more.  

Tags: Florida Panthers , Frans Nielsen , Thomas Greiss

New York Islanders right wing Steve Bernier (16) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. New York Islanders won 2-1. (Sergei Belski)
New York Islanders right wing Steve Bernier (16) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. New York Islanders won 2-1. (Sergei Belski)

Ryan Strome will be scratched for Game 5 and will be replaced in the lineup by forward Steve Bernier, Newsday's Arthur Staple reports

Strome has one goal and one assist so far this postseason, while Bernier has yet to suit up for a playoff game this year. 

In 24 regular-season games, Bernier recorded one goal, five assists and a plus-3 rating. 

Bernier has 68 career playoff games under his belt, most recently in 2011-12 with the Devils during their run to the Stanley Cup Final. 

Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter

The assumption was made at the Islanders' morning skate that it would be Alan Quine or Strome coming out for Bernier. We now, thanks to Art in Sunrise, have our answer.

Bernier has 68 games career playoff experience, going to the Stanley Cup Final with the New Jersey Devils back in 2012. He has collected 9-14-23 in those games with 27 penalty minutes and 22 shots. Along with Marek Zidlicky (44 playoff games), who enters for injured Ryan Pulock, the Islanders experience level does rise prior to the pivotal Game 5.

However, this does beg the bigger question. Even though Strome has had a difficult and unproductive season that has carried into the playoffs - he was awful on Wednesday - he was still part of what seemed to be a productive line with Quine and Shane Prince. Yet Josh Bailey, who has severely regressed over the course of 86 games, remains in the lineup. Puzzling indeed since Bailey is also part of the Islanders worst line in this series,with Nikolay Kulemin and Brock Nelson.

If this move doesn't work out for Jack Capuano and the Islanders, they will certainly face an uphill battle to win this series. Per Elias Sports, teams that win game five to break 2-2 ties win 78.4 percent of series(189-52). And New York has not won a Game 5 in its last 11 tries.

Tags: Ryan Strome , Steve Bernier

New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) celebrates after scoring a power play goal against the Florida Panthers during the second period of game four of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Florida Panthers at Barclays Center. (Andy Marlin)
New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) celebrates after scoring a power play goal against the Florida Panthers during the second period of game four of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Florida Panthers at Barclays Center. (Andy Marlin)

The Islanders head back to Florida on Friday night to take on the Panthers in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series at the BB&T Center. 

According to STATS...

  • Florida evened the series with a 2-1 win in Brooklyn Wednesday night. It was the Panthers' second win in a postseason road game in the last 20 years (also: Game 3 in the first round at New Jersey in 2012).
  • The Panthers are 2-1 in best-of-seven playoff series tied 2-2 all-time, but both wins came in the 1996 playoffs. The Islanders are 4-6 in those series all-time but have lost three straight including the first round against Washington last year.
  • Alex Petrovic scored his first career postseason goal Wednesday. Florida defensemen have now accounted for 10 points in this series.
  • Jaromir Jagr assisted on Teddy Purcell's goal Wednesday and has now recorded 200 career postseason points. He is just the fifth player with 200 career playoff points in NHL history joining Wayne Gretzky (382), Mark Messier (295), Jari Kurri (233) and Glenn Anderson (214).
  • The Islanders won the first meeting between these teams in Florida and have won at least one road game in each of their last six postseason series. However, New York has not won two road games in a single series since 1993 against Pittsburgh.
  • John Tavares scored his eighth career playoff goal Wednesday and third of the series. It was his first career power-play goal in the postseason after going goalless in 47 minutes and 33 seconds of power-play ice time in his first 16 career playoff games.
Tags: Florida Panthers , John Tavares

Apr 20, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save against the Florida Panthers during the third period of game four of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Florida Panthers at Barclays Center. The Panthers won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports  (Andy Marlin)
Apr 20, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss (1) makes a save against the Florida Panthers during the third period of game four of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Florida Panthers at Barclays Center. The Panthers won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

Florida remained steady no matter the pressure of a game situation during the regular season. Close games were common, but it relied more on puck possession than forceful attacks.

That's changed significantly during the playoffs, with the Panthers pressing more than any other team to get the puck on net. The New York Islanders have done enough to withstand that pressure, though, to have the series deadlocked heading into Friday night's Game 5 in Sunrise.

Florida's SAT Close rating (total of blocked and unblocked shots in one-goal or overtime situations at five-on-five) was a minus-99 in the regular season, ranking 18th in the league. It protected early leads plenty - 31 times it led after the first period, among the most in the NHL - by possessing the puck as much as possible rather than pressing to add more goals.

The Panthers have taken it to the Islanders in this tight series, though. Their SAT Close rating is a playoff-leading plus-46, and that aggressiveness paid off Wednesday as Alex Petrovic scored the lone goal of the third to give them a 2-1 victory. >> Read more

 (Sergei Belski)
(Sergei Belski)

Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter

So there we have it. The setup for game five and some gamesmanship being played by Florida head coach Gerard Gallant as well -- the first time we have seen that in the series.

First things first, not horrible news on Pulock. Yes, he's out for 1-2 weeks, but given that timetable, there doesn't seem to be anything broken. Marek Zidlicky is in for his experience and power play work, per Capuano. The other options were Adam Pelech, Brian Strait or a recall of Scott Mayfield. Smart decision to go with the vet, although it remains to be seen if he can handle Florida's suffocating forecheck.

Vincent Trocheck was first on the ice for the Panthers morning skate in a full participant jersey but his workload during the session was limited to skating with the extras. In the locker room, per George Richards of the Miami Herald, he was assigned a chair and was still on the ice taking extra work. Under normal circumstances, that would mean he's not playing tonight. But, not so fast.

Gallant then proceeds to tell reporters in the pregame press conference he is a possibility and would center the third line if good to go. He knows right now whether Trocheck will play or not, but is just trying to leave it a mystery until 7:30 when the teams take the ice for the warmup. Smooth Gerard, smooth indeed.

To think Trocheck has no impact on this series potentially is to underestimate the Panthers, as some did prior to this series. He had an outstanding season and makes Florida that much tougher to defend.

Have your defibrillator ready? Emergency contact info on the fridge? Buckle up, this could get bumpy.

Tags: Marek Zidlicky , Thomas Greiss , Andy Graziano


11:50 a.m.: Islanders Defenseman Ryan Pulock will be out for the remainder of the series against the Panters due to an upper body injury, head coach Jack Capuano said on Friday.

It's expected that Pulock will be out for one to two weeks.

Previous reports and reaction

Pulock did not travel with the Islanders to Florida.

He got hurt after a big collision in the third period of Game 4 with Garrett Wilson, and did not return to the ice. 

The rookie defenseman had a goal and two assists in the first four games of the series against the Panthers. 

Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter

Real tough break for Pulock, who was getting invaluable playoff experience and playing well in his first taste of NHL playoff action.

He had become a real weapon, bolstering the Islanders offensive attack and adding a goal and two assists in the first four games of the first round series against the Florida Panthers. Last night, his mere presence on the power play created time and space for captain John Tavares and allowed the Islanders captain to tie the game near the end of the second period.

In the third frame, just prior to Alex Petrovic's game winning goal, Pulock went to chase a dump-in to the right of goaltender Thomas Greiss. He was slammed into the boards hard, but clean, by Garrett Wilson and immediately sagged his left arm, clutching it close to his body for the remainder of the shift, before exiting for the evening.

Replacements include Marek Zidlicky, Scott Mayfield, Brian Strait or Adam Pelech. The latter two are left handed shots and would require one defenseman to switch to his off-side.

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

What a shame. Pulock has been not only been improving leaps and bounds defensively, but he's completely revolutionized the Islanders power play. Look at how he drew two Panthers to him, and away from John Tavares, on the Isles' goal in Game 4. It was a gorgeous play, and you could really see just how mightily New York suffered without him on their feeble power play attempts in the third period.

New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano talks with players in the third period in the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. The Islanders won 5-4. (Robert Mayer)
New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano talks with players in the third period in the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. The Islanders won 5-4. (Robert Mayer)

Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter

The New York Islanders came into last night's game four at Barclays Center in Brooklyn with a couple of demons still chasing the proud but recently maligned franchise. Leading the best of seven first round series against the gritty Atlantic division champion Florida Panthers, two games to one, Jack Capuano's squad was looking to win consecutive playoff games for the first time since 2002.

Capuano, who has made all the right moves in the last three weeks or so leading up to this point, did his job yet again, putting out the best 20 skaters he could find and rightfully leaving the rest to their performance and execution of the practiced gameplan. The players could not come through on this night, falling 2-1 in a game that was maybe not as close as the final score indicated, knotting the series at two games each. Heading into game five, the Islanders will look to avoid another disturbing trend - losing 11 consecutive game 5s dating back to 1987.

It really is inexplicable at this point to search for answers as to why the Islanders players seem to be so mentally fragile, acting like a deer in headlights when they shine their brightest. It was painfully evident last year in the game seven loss to the Washington Capitals and unfortunately, was there for 15,795 anxious fans to witness last night also.

Now, to be perfectly honest, there is plenty of credit to be thrown around also to the Panthers. They did not win the Atlantic division by proxy, or just showing up. They earned it with a relentless forecheck, a 44-year-young leader in Jaromir Jagr showing them the way and the continued maturity of young defenseman Aaron Ekblad. Not to mention big time performances thus far in this series by Reilly Smith and Nick Bjugstad, two of the Panthers best forwards after four games.

Regardless of me showering the Panthers with the aforementioned love, the Islanders need to move this franchise forward. They have done so off the ice - securing a long term lease to play at Barclays Center, taking away so many questions that players, both on the team currently, and possibly considering signing, have had in the past and lining their pockets with a guaranteed $50 million per season. They have new ownership, Jonathan Ledecky and Scott Malkin, taking the reins next year from Charles Wang. They have a spanking new practice facility being renovated at Eisenhower Park.

On the ice, however, up to this point, it's been maddening inconsistency that has plagued a roster that, on paper, looks good enough to win. And on some nights, the paper proves to be right. Problem is, in big situations, it has not. Captain John Tavares is certainly not the issue as he is having an incredible run, netting 8-8-16 in his last eight games, going back to the regular season. Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen, playing for contracts, have been good. Thomas Greiss has saved the Islanders bacon in this series, leading to both victories. It's easy to ascertain. Florida's middle six are simply outperforming the Islanders middle six.

In a series that has been statistically even between the two clubs, the analytics tell a deeper story. Florida has 221 5v5 shot attempts to 180 for New York. They also lead in scoring chances 119-90 and high danger scoring chances 51-34. The Islanders first line of Taveras, Nielsen and Okposo has combined for 6 of their 11 goals in the series (3 of 7 5v5). Greiss has a save percentage of .924, a hair below his regular season mark and if not for his save in game two and multiple saves in game three, this series could look much different. Last night, he gave up a rough goal on the winner - 'I picked it up late' he would say postgame - but make no mistake, he's been solid in his first taste of full time duty.

Capuano knows he needs more from his secondary players. "You are not going to win many games when you score one goal and the same guys score. We gave up 22 shots even strength. I thought structurally we were pretty good. We didn't create much. We got one line (Tavares, Okposo, Nielsen) creating all of our offense right now. We have to find a way like we did in Florida when we had secondary scoring and the other night here when we had secondary scoring. If not, it's going to be tough."

But, given the players he has at his disposal, what changes could be expected for game five? Capuano in his postgame presser noted, "Back on the road, decisions (lineup) will have to be made". Steve Bernier has 68 career playoff games under his belt, with 23 points to boot, but which underachiever does he replace? Ryan Strome, who struggled mightily last night? Josh Bailey, snakebitten to the point he shot from the low slot, wide open, into Luongo's chest in the second period? Brock Nelson, who has turned the puck over, it seems, more times than maybe all season through the first four games?

On defense, Ryan Pulock's status presents another potential issue. The Islanders young defenseman, who has been excellent in his playoff debut, slammed his hand/wrist/elbow into the boards right before Alec Petrovic's game winner and immediately went to the dressing room, not returning. He will be re-evaluated today. It would be a decision between Marek Zidlicky, Scott Mayfield, Brian Strait or Adam Pelech, all of whom don't possess the offensive acumen of Pulock, especially on a power play that was clicking at 30.8% after the game.

There was no panic sensed speaking with the players last night, with both Travis Hamonic and Johnny Boychuk expressing confidence in the current group, both saying the same thing, albeit in a slightly different fashion. Have to have a short memory in the playoffs, win or lose. Need to move on to the next game.

Will the next game be more of the same in Islanders history? Or can this group find their moxie in time to write their own story.

GEICO SportsNite: Islanders 00:01:31
Michelle Yu reports on the Islanders' 2-1 loss to the Panthers in Game 4.

Alex Petrovic scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period and the Florida Panthers beat the New York Islanders 2-1 on Wednesday night to even their first-round playoff series at two games apiece.

Teddy Purcell also scored for Florida and Jaromir Jagr had an assist for his 200th career playoff point. Roberto Luongo stopped 26 shots.

John Tavares had his third goal of the series for New York, and Thomas Greiss finished with 27 saves.

The Panthers got their first playoff road win since April 17, 2012, against New Jersey in Game 3 of the first round.

Game 5 of the best-of-seven series is Friday night in Sunrise, Florida. >> Read more

Tags: John Tavares , Thomas Greiss

 (Robert Mayer)
(Robert Mayer)

The Islanders host the Panthers at Barclays Center in Game 4 of their first round playoff series on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET.

According to STATS...

  • The Islanders beat the Panthers, 4-3, in overtime at home on Sunday night, winning their first-ever playoff game at Barclays Center. New York has potted four or more goals 30 times this year (including postseason) -- tied with Florida and Tampa Bay for fifth most in the league.
  • Florida has scored at least three goals in each game of this series. The only other time in franchise history that the Panthers lit the lamp at least three times in three straight postseason contests, was in their first three playoff games all-time (April 17-24, 1996 vs. Boston).
  • Reilly Smith has four goals and four markers in the first three games of this series, recording at least two points in every contest. Smith is the first Panther to record 8+ points in a single postseason since 11 different Florida skaters did so in the 1996 playoffs.
  • Florida's leading scorer during the regular season, Jaromir Jagr, has been held pointless and has been a minus-1 in each of the first three games of this matchup. Dating to the 2013 postseason, Jagr has gone without a point in five consecutive playoff skates -- one game shy of tying his career-long drought of six (done twice).
  • John Tavares had two assists Sunday night, giving him a team-high six points (2g, 4a) in the first three games of this matchup, and 12 points (4g, 8a) in his last 10 postseason skates overall. Tavares has more points (12) in his last nine games vs. the Panthers than he had in the first 16 of his career against Florida (11 points).
  • Florida has faced a 2-1 deficit twice in franchise history, beating the Flyers in six games in 1996, and losing to the Rangers in five games in 1997. New York has an all-time best-of-7 record of 7-2 when entering Game 4 with a 2-1 lead.

 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

On paper, the Florida Panthers' deep, skilled roster seemed like too much for the New York Islanders to overcome in order to capture their first playoff series in 23 years.

It's starting to look like the guts and persistence of the Islanders on the ice might be more than the Panthers can handle in order to snap their own postseason slump that dates to the same era.

After their second come-from-behind win helped the Islanders claim an edge in this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, they can jump far ahead with a Game 4 victory in Brooklyn on Wednesday night.

New York hasn't won a playoff series since 1993 and entered this one as an underdog to the surprising Panthers, who have a slump stretching back to 1996 but had been considered a Stanley Cup contender after winning the Atlantic Division.

However, the Islanders' two comeback wins during an exhausting stretch of three games in four days has them in the driver's seat. >> Read more

New York Islanders center John Tavares during third period action against the Florida Panthers in game two of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at BB&T Center. (Robert Duyos)
New York Islanders center John Tavares during third period action against the Florida Panthers in game two of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at BB&T Center. (Robert Duyos)

The Isles will go for their second consecutive win on Wednesday. If they can get it, not only will they go up 3-1 in the series, they'll do something they haven't done in 14 years.

The last time the Islanders won consecutive games in the playoffs was the 2002 playoffs, when they knocked off the Maple Leafs in Games 3 and 4. They would go on to lose that series in seven.

"I think that might be the hardest thing in the playoffs is to back up a win with a win," John Tavares told reporters after Tuesday's practice. "Coming off a loss, you want to correct things and there's a determination to get back in the win column […] They're going to be a desperate team and we have to be at that same level and feed off the energy of our crowd being at home."

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

It goes without saying that this game should define what type of series this is going to be. A win and New York will gain some breathing room, and have three chances to close out Florida. A loss, and we're probably in for a seven-game nail biter. For the Isles, they'll have to ride the emotion from Game 3, and hope the extra day of rest doesn't do a gassed Roberto Luongo any good. Florida is sure to press early, and if they Isles can survive that wave of pressure, they should gain some valuable momentum.   

At this point, I think practically everyone has drawn the parallel between this series and the Caps' series of a year ago: Game 1 road win, lose despite being the better team in Game 2, overtime winner on home ice for Game 3. Where that series really went off the rails was the Game 4 overtime loss at home. Who knows. Had Cal Clutterbuck's wrister later in the third gone in instead of hitting the cross bar, that series could have turned out very different. Tonight, the Isles have a chance to atone for that sin. Win your home games, advance to the second round. It's that simple. 

New York Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock (6) celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) during the second period of game three of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner)
New York Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock (6) celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) during the second period of game three of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner)

Ryan Pulock is learning on the fly, and it has bolstered the Islanders' defensive corps.

In Game 3, with the Islanders on a 5-on-3 advantage, Pulock scored his first career playoff goal on a monster one-timer. Then, after the Panthers had re-opened a two-goal lead, Pulock skated down the far wall and fed Shane Prince in front to bring New York within one.

Still, Pulock's game is not without faults. Reilly Smith beat him on a rush that resulted in Florida's third tally of the evening.

"He knew he got beat on one of those plays there [that gave the Panthers a 3-1 lead in Game 3], but he came out next shift and put it behind him," Capuano said. "He's a lot more assertive than when he first came here, and that's a good sign."

In the series thus far, Pulock has two points and is a -2. He has averaged 15:32 of ice time per game.

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

I'm really impressed with how resilient Pulock has been in this series. In all three games, Pulock has had some missteps that have led either to Florida chances or to a goal. But, like Capuano said, that doesn't stop him from making the next play. Learning on the job in a playoff series isn't an easy task, but Pulock has done an admirable job, and I think it's certainly made him a virtual lock to stay in the lineup for the rest of the way. That's music to my ears, especially when you see what he's capable of creating offensively.

I have to give the Isles credit here in taking a chance on Pulock, specifically with Capuano choosing to stick with him. Every time I saw Pulock have a misstep in each of the first three games, I figured that would be Capuano's excuse to go with Marek Zidlicky or Brian Strait the next time the team hit the ice. But Jack isn't doing that, and I'm both surprised and relieved. As we saw on Sunday, Pulock has the highest ceiling of maybe any defenseman on the roster, and if he stays aggressive and just make some small tweaks on the go, he could be the difference in this series.

On this week's show, Brian Compton and Mike Carver look back at Sunday night's thrilling Game 3 win over the Panthers.

Dan Saraceni of Lighthouse Hockey calls in to give his take on the Barclay's Center crowd, the play of captain John Tavares and defenseman Ryan Pulock. Plus, a very special guest enters the studio to discuss his now famous Game 3 prediction, and what he thinks the final score will be in Game 4.

Tags: John Tavares

New York Islanders center Shane Prince (11) celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with New York Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan (44) and center Alan Quine (10) during the second period of game three of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner)
New York Islanders center Shane Prince (11) celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with New York Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan (44) and center Alan Quine (10) during the second period of game three of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner)

Garth Snow did not dabble much in the overpriced and overhyped trade market back in late February, instead deciding to make just one minor move as the clock ticked closer to the closing bell. 

'Isles transaction: The New York Islanders have received Shane Prince and a 2016 7th round draft choice from the Ottawa Senators for a 2016 3rd round choice' came blaring across my mobile phone as a text message from the PR department, announcing the just completed deal.

My next stop? Hockey reference to find out who Shane Prince was. It's difficult to keep tabs on every teams' third and fourth liners, which is exactly what I assumed Prince to be. With so many seemingly interchangeable parts on those lines and the trade market blurring things even more, I doubt there were many Islander fans who knew exactly who he was.

Coming to the Islanders with 44 games under his belt and zero playoff experience, who would have thought the 5-foot-11, 185-pound winger from Rochester, NY would be making such a big contribution under the brightest of lights. Prince might not develop into a massive goal scorer at the NHL level, but the pedigree is certainly there. 

In his final two seasons with the Ottawa 67s in the Ontario Hockey League, Prince collected 68-110-178 in just 116 games. He then played for three seasons in the American Hockey League with the Binghamton Senators, and posted 67-81-148 in 206 games. More importantly, his point total increased each season from 35-48-65.

Since coming to New York, he has shown flashes of outstanding speed and sharp stickhandling. He will even admit that his shot is still a work in progress, but you would never know that after he sent a packed Barclays Center into a frenzy with a huge second period goal Sunday night. The goal came at a perfect time when New York had fallen behind 3-1 midway through the second period.

"It's obviously a big game," Prince commented postgame. "Game 3 in a tied series, we wanted to take the lead back in the series. The fans were unbelievable tonight. They got us going we had a little deficit and the boys rallied back. That's the type of team we are, we're just relentless. It's a big win."

An even later addition to the lineup has been center Alan Quine, another one of the Islanders 'little big men' who, at 5-11, 190 lbs, was called up from Bridgeport for the final two regular season games when head coach Jack Capuano was looking to rest some of his battered senior statesmen. The 23-year-old has been looking to make the jump to the NHL for some time now, spending 195 games in the organization with the Sound Tigers (50-87-137). 

He has made his mark with smart, heady play in all three zones that earned him a spot on the playoff roster. But in a dose of 'flash and dash', he ended up setting up the game winning goal in game one on a beauty of a deke and shot which linemate Ryan Strome finished. This move takes tons of confidence in your own abilities to pull off in your first ever playoff game.

Quine spoke postgame about the chemistry his new line with Strome and Prince have been able to find. "I have played with Ryan before I've played against Shane for many years, so I am very familiar with them both. It's been a lot of fun playing with them." 

Prince broke it down further, "All three of us like to play with speed and skill. When you have that together and you're tenacious down low, it's tough for defenseman to stay with us. Be a possession line and score some big goals." 

Not the sexiest of additions made to a New York lineup looking to win its first playoff series in 23 years. Some fans were upset at the fact this was 'all they got' when teams had concluded all their business in late February and early April before heading into the playoffs. 

I'm thinking they think differently today. The Islanders 'third line' has been more of second unit with the continued struggles of Brock Nelson-Nikolay Kulemin-Josh Bailey, save their outstanding effort on the game winning goal last night. Prince even commented last night, "It's been a blessing being traded here".

They have provided youth, exuberance, speed and skill to an already dangerous but sometimes inconsistent offense. These are two players who have a strong desire to show they belong as part of the 18 men Capuano decides to dress every night. And not just in the here and now. Moving forward, they are out to prove they belong for the long term.

Tags: Andy Graziano

New York Islanders center Shane Prince celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with defenseman Calvin de Haan and center Alan Quine during the second period of Game 3 of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Islanders center Shane Prince celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with defenseman Calvin de Haan and center Alan Quine during the second period of Game 3 of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

The line of Nikolay KuleminBrock Nelson and Josh Bailey began to atone for their sins of Games 1 and 2.

The line, which was so ineffective they were broken up midway through the Isles' 3-1 loss on Friday, reunited and chipped in a big effort when it mattered most to help the team to an overtime triumph in Game 3.

Nelson and Bailey had the assists on Thomas Hickey's game winner, with Nelson sending a beautiful, blind, backhanded centering feed from behind the net to set it up.

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

This line was getting ridden by the fans all night. Every time they hit the ice, people moaned in displeasure. And coming into the night, it was well deserved. It was by far and away the weakest line in the opening games of the series, leading to a line shuffle midway through Game 2, and they needed a big effort to justify keeping one or all of them in the lineup. They certainly did just that.

Let's start with Bailey, who was the unsung hero on the game winner. He won a key battle on the boards to get Nelson the puck. Nelson, of course, sent a beautiful feed to Hickey for the game winner. And Kulemin made the whole thing happen by firing a shot on net from up high, forcing Luongo to make a tough save through traffic, and eventually creating the chance down low.

Each forward had two shots on net in their 16-to-18 minutes on the ice. And give Nelson credit for improving in the circle. He lost a few big defensive zone draws, but he was 9-for-18 (50 percent) for the night, which was a massive improvement over the 25.6 percent he combined for in Games 1 and 2 (7-for-18 in Game 1, 1-for-10 in Game 2).

Was it perfect form out of this line? No, but they were much, much better. Hopefully it will be the jolt they need, as they raise their game for the reminder of the series.

Tags: Brock Nelson , Josh Bailey , Nikolay Kulemin


The Islanders and their fans alike started making playoff memories in their new home in Game 3.

Thomas Hickey scored 12:31 into overtime to set off a celebration in Brooklyn. The goal gave the Isles a 4-3 win and a 2-1 series advantage.

"It was incredible," Hickey told reporters when asked about the atmosphere in the building. "I love our fans. I didn't know it was going to be that good. We have a great new culture they seem to be developing here, and we really fed off of that today."

"Our fans were very energetic, to say the least, and we wanted to make sure that we use that to our advantage, and I think tonight we did," Travis Hamonic said. "[When it was] 3-1 [Florida], the crowd was still going. It was rocking, and we felt like we had to keep pushing. Keep pushing."

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

I sat in Section 114, and I had a blast. Of course, because of the high ceiling, the sound doesn't quite reach that point where it stops becoming loud and just starts buzzing like it did in Nassau. But I looked around before the game when the team hit the ice, saw the orange rally towels waving, while the faithful roared and gave the team a standing ovation, and said to myself, "Yeah, this will do."

I was really impressed with just how good it felt to watch playoff hockey in Brooklyn. From the LIRR to the area under Oculus to inside the arena, everyone was in a festive mood. Islanders' fans really embraced their new home on Sunday, and it made a difference. The place absolutely erupted after Aaron Ekblad's goal was disallowed, and it was bedlam when Hickey hit the back of the twine in OT.

I now know from experience: the Barc is more than capable of being rocked. The Isles hope their fans will do it all over again on Wednesday night.

Tags: Thomas Hickey , Travis Hamonic , Brian Erni

New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal against the Florida Panthers. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal against the Florida Panthers. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

Thomas Hickey scored 12:31 into overtime to lift the Islanders to a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers on Sunday in Game 3 of their first-round series, giving New York a win in its first playoff game in Brooklyn.

Ryan Pulock, Shane Prince and Frans Nielsen scored for the Islanders, and Thomas Greiss had 36 saves. John Tavares and Kyle Okposo each had two assists.

Hickey scored on a one-timer off a pass from Brock Nelson from behind the net to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is in Brooklyn on Wednesday night.

Reilly Smith had a goal and two assists, and Aleksander Barkov and Nick Bjustad also scored for the Panthers. Smith has four goals and four assists in the series. Roberto Luongo stopped 35 shots.

Florida had several chances in the first seven minutes of overtime, but couldn't get anything past Greiss. >> Read more

Tags: Calvin De Haan , Florida Panthers , Frans Nielsen , John Tavares , Kyle Okposo , Thomas Greiss , Thomas Hickey

The Barclays Center hosts Game 3 of the Islanders-Panthers playoff series Sunday. (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY )
The Barclays Center hosts Game 3 of the Islanders-Panthers playoff series Sunday. (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY )

The Islanders and Panthers resume pleasantries Sunday night at 8 at the Barclays Center as the first-round playoff series shifts to Brooklyn for Game 3.

After Florida's 3-1 victory in Game 2 evened the series at one game apiece, New York is looking to rely on the comforts of home and an outstanding record (25-11-5) in their inaugural season at the state-of the art facility.

With the arena hosting its first Stanley Cup playoff game, here is what you need to know before heading out Sunday:

LIRR Train Service

Fans are encouraged to take expanded Long Island Rail Road service for Game 3.

Three extra trains will be available to accommodate fans heading to the game, as well as four extra trains to get fans back home afterwards. For a full schedule of trains operating on game nights, fans should visit

Barclays Plaza

Barclays Center will celebrate its first Islanders playoff game with a special lineup of festivities. Fans are encouraged to arrive early to the game for a pre-game fan fest on the Plaza.

Starting at 5 p.m., fans can visit the arena's plaza to enjoy interactive activities and music by local band The Wild Ones and DJ Espo. Fans will also notice a total Islanders brand takeover at Barclays Center.

Barclays Concourse

Before Game 3, WFAN will broadcast live from the Barclays Center concourse, near the main entrance, with a two-hour pre-game show hosted by Boomer Esiason and Chris Moore beginning at 6 p.m. Game 3 will be televised on CNBC and broadcast on WFAN.

Social Media

Fans are encouraged to post photos and follow along on social media throughout the night using #DriveFor5. Fans can also follow the team's social media accounts at @NYIslanders on Twitter, @NY_Islanders on Instagram, and NYIsles on Snapchat for a behind-the-scenes look at all of the action. Fans can also follow SNY Islanders writer Andy Graziano on Twitter (@tazman19) during the game and @IslandersPointBlank for a post-game wrapup and reactions.

For a glimpse into how the arena is preparing for its first-ever NHL playoff games, follow @BarclaysCenter on Twitter and Instagram.

Pregame ceremony

Barclays Center has told Islanders Point Blank there will be a special pregame ceremony starting at around 7:45 p.m. Fans are asked to be in their seats by this time.

Game 4 is Wednesday, also at 8 p.m..

Florida's Roberto Luongo stifled the Islanders in Game 2. (Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports)
Florida's Roberto Luongo stifled the Islanders in Game 2. (Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports)

After a scoring outburst by both teams in the series opener, Roberto Luongo knuckled down and got the Florida Panthers even with the Islanders at a game apiece.

The Atlantic Division champions will now try to reclaim home-ice advantage with a Game 3 win, but the Islanders expect to receive a huge lift from a raucous crowd when playoff hockey makes its debut at Barclays Center on Sunday night.

Thursday's opener was a high-scoring affair the Islanders won 5-4, but the goal barrage screeched to a halt Friday with Luongo making 41 saves to pick up his first playoff victory in five years with a 3-1 win in Game 2.

New York captain John Tavares ended Luongo's shutout bid with 3:33 remaining before Florida closed it out on Dmitry Kulikov's empty-netter in the waning seconds. Reilly Smith and Nick Bjugstad each had a goal and an assist for the Panthers.

"It was important, obviously, to get one at home," said the 37-year-old Luongo, who hadn't won a playoff game since shutting out Boston 1-0 in Game 5 of the 2011 Stanley Cup final with Vancouver. "Complete team effort tonight. Typical playoff game, low-scoring, grinding down and we found a way to win."

Luongo, who fell victim to a few defensive lapses by Florida in Game 1, made several outstanding saves to thwart an attacking Islanders offense which hadn't put at least 40 shots on goal since totaling 46 at Columbus on Feb. 9. He even kept the puck out of the net for a minute-long stretch without his stick after it was knocked from his hand.

Lifting the Panthers to a playoff win came in his 456th appearance with the club.

"Lu's big for us every night," Bjugstad said. "(Thursday) night, I thought those were good goals by them. Lu's so focused every day, he works so hard in practice, it pays off for him on the ice. So no, we weren't really surprised.

Read more. . . . .

Ice conditions at the Barclays Center will be under scrutiny Sunday. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Ice conditions at the Barclays Center will be under scrutiny Sunday. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Newsday reported that Dan Craig, the league's "ice guru" was in Sunrise for Games 1 and 2 to ensure the ice would be in good shape, and will be at Barclays Center on Sunday with the same mission.

 "This is the time of year when the humidity gets up there," coach Jack Capuano said on Saturday. "Garth [Snow] and everybody involved is doing the best they can to get the ice where it needs to be, and the last couple games, it was good."

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

First, I can never get over the league having someone they openly refer to as their ice "guru." It's too perfect.

The ice problem really reached a fever pitch on March 29 after their 2-1 shootout win over the Hurricanes, when Kyle Okposo and others complained that surface was "terrible." Since, Craig has been on hand in Brooklyn to help the ice crew maintain a better surface, and as you can see from Capuano's comments, it seems to have made a difference. But today, with the humidity outside creeping up an the warmer weather finally making its way into the area, I suspect they'll have to double their efforts. It should be interesting to see if Craig and company can create a good surface.

It's hard to say who would benefit from choppy ice. Both teams skate well, but the Isles probably depend on it a little more. Though, you'd have to think that they'd know what to expect, considering it is their home rink. With the clock ticking down to game time, it's only a matter of time before we find out.

New York Islanders left winger Matt Martin (center) yells out at Florida Panthers center Nick Bjugstad (27) during a third period scuffle in game two of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at BB&T Center. (Robert Duyos)
New York Islanders left winger Matt Martin (center) yells out at Florida Panthers center Nick Bjugstad (27) during a third period scuffle in game two of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at BB&T Center. (Robert Duyos)

Now we have a series, folks. The New York Islanders and Florida Panthers are all knotted at one game each as the first round battle will head back to Brooklyn for scheduled games three and four tomorrow and Wednesday.

Last night, Florida bounced back and, despite being outplayed by New York, held on for a 3-1 victory before their maligned home crowd. Funny how the playoffs work, isn't it? Florida totally manhandled the Islanders in game one, dominating every statistical category you can think of, including scoring off the charts on the 'eye-test', yet lost. Last night, the tables were turned, maybe not as significant, but turned regardless, and they won. Crazy times indeed.

Remember back when a small fraction of Islanders and Rangers fans were dying to avoid the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round, instead wishing for the Panthers? This is not the regular season anymore. All the teams here are here for a reason. And the Panthers are no exception to that rule. Well coached, young, big and fast, they are going to make the Islanders work for every bit of ice they need to take if they are to win their first playoff series in 23 years.

These teams were just about even on paper entering the series and nothing over two games has changed that perception, really. Goals are 7-6 Florida, Shots 77-68 Florida, power play 1-5 Islanders and 1-4 Panthers, Hits 72-61 New York and faceoffs 68-61 Panthers. Everything is pointing to a long, drawn out battle that could go the distance. 

So, what did we really learn about these two teams after games one and two in the sunshine state? 

1 - Captain Jack - Jack Capuano, so masterful in the last two weeks leading up to the postseason, really gets an opportunity to carry that into the most important time of the year. So far, so good, but game three looms large in his decision making. Why? 

2 - Brutal - The second line is not working. I mean, at all. My colleague Brian Erni wrote about this morning in this space and he couldn't be more correct. Nikolay Kulemin has had a rough year, producing only 9-13-22 in 81 games and missing some of that dogged determination we saw last year. Brock Nelson has been inconsistent, even with a career high 26 goals. Josh Bailey is nowhere to be found, looking lifeless and haphazard. Last night, it could be argued they cost New York the game with their lack of defensive coverage. Possession? In the series, Bailey, in particular, is 26.8 (15-41). Woof.

3 - Steve Bernier time? - That brings me to my third point. Bernier is not an offensive force, never was, never will be. But he does have 68 career playoff games on his resume and a 9-14-23 stat line, almost identical to what Bailey put up in the regular season. Even if he doesn't score much or generate many chances for his linemates, all you're asking of him is defensive responsibility. That much he can give you. It could be the difference between winning and losing (see last night).

4 - Defense assemble - Two of the three top defenseman for this team have not arrived in the series yet. They need to immediately. Johnny Boychuk, who in all honesty, had a mediocre regular season by his high standards, has continued that play in the playoffs, often getting caught out of position or flat-footed by the Panthers speed. Nick Leddy, who possesses, arguably, the smoothest stride in the league, has looked slow and not up to his second half performances. That could be blamed on the slow, slushy ice in Sunrise but we're not here to make excuses. He needs to better take command of the transition. 

5 - It's Pull-ock, m'kay? - Ryan Pulock has certainly not looked out of place in his first taste of NHL playoff hockey. He has handled the Panthers forecheck effectively, has not panicked with the puck and also has shown some good zone entries. 'It's another level. Every guy steps up his game. It's physical, it's fast and the crowd really gets into it. It's fun to play in.'

6 - The Quine show - Talk about not being spooked. Alan Quine has been a revelation. What a fantastic move in game one to set up Ryan Strome's game winning goal in the third period. Followed that up with a responsible performance in game two (14:19 TOI, 4 shot attempts), again producing chances for whomever he is lined up with. He's clearly playing like a man who wants a spot on this team next season.

7 - New besties - The new first line of captain John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen has been unstoppable in this series. All three are playing to 5v5 Corsi numbers from 55% to 63%. The Panthers, right now, have no answer for them. Capuano cannot, under any circumstance, start his juggling act now with this trio. Keep sending them over the boards, every fourth shift.

8 - Jesus Greiss - So much for 40 minutes of playoff experience, huh? Greiss has been fantastic in the first two games, stoning Jaromir Jagr to save game one and making tremendous saves last night to keep the Islanders in a tight checking, classic playoff tilt. All this while making his first full, sixty minute back to back appearance all year. Honestly, of the six goals he has allowed so far, only one could be considered a bad goal (third period to Reilly Smith in game one). Proving his mettle for sure. Capuano agreed and is looking to his forwards to offer some assistance moving forward: 'He played well. He gave us a chance no doubt about it. He made big saves early on but unfortunately they got a couple quick goals. You're just not gonna win a hockey games if you don't score. John (Tavares) got that goal late, but we needed to generate more to try and find a hole early on.'

9 - End of day - All things considered, a good split for the Islanders in Florida. They got badly outplayed in game one, but bounced back with a nice effort that they were not rewarded for last night. If they play the rest of the series the same way as game two, they send the Panthers to the golf course. Nick Leddy agrees: 'I thought we played well tonight. Obviously, we didn't come out on top, but that's the way we need to play game in and game out.'

Lastly, as the series shifts back to New York, the players seem to be very confident that the fanbase can make Barclays Center a raucous place that the Panthers will not enjoy. Can they replicate the extreme noise level of the Nassau Coliseum during last seasons series against the Washington Capitals? I'm not sure, but I will say this. The game New York edged Florida 3-2 last month in Brooklyn with three third period goals was the loudest I've heard all season. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to be louder. You game?

Capuano will provide the lead-in. You do the rest. 

"We're going back to Brooklyn and the atmosphere is gonna be great."

Tags: Andy Graziano

 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

The final buzzer sounded, and I looked up at the ceiling of Nassau Coliseum from Section 318. Through the deafening roar of their Game 6 win over the Caps, tears in my eyes, I thanked whoever was listening for the all the memories I had watching the Islanders in that decrepit, yet spectacular building. But despite the fact that I tried to say goodbye that day, I wasn't sure I ever stopped mourning for everything it felt like I lost when the Isles packed up for the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush.
Well, today, on the eve of the first ever NHL playoff game in Brooklyn, I'm letting whatever traces of somberness go, and embracing postseason hockey at our new address. I'm encouraging all of you to do the same.
There's absolutely no doubt that the team benefitted when the Old Barn was rocking. Matt Martin candidly told me as much.
"I think that's the thing we're going to miss most about the [Coliseum] […] It was absolutely insane," Martin told me last summer. "I haven't been in a louder building. I've never been in a better atmosphere. [The fans] definitely were a big part of that home record [25-14-2 in their final year at the Coliseum], and the success we had in our building. You certainly hope and pray that we'll have the same atmosphere at Barclays Center, but time will tell, of course."
Many fans were slow on the uptake to Brooklyn, and that's justifiable. Forty three years of traditions were turned on their head. I know that if tomorrow's game was in Uniondale, many of you - myself included - would be blaring music and playing street hockey, while we ate and drank in merriment; allowing the anticipation that accompanies the hours before a playoff hockey game to seep into our pores. Instead, it's a pack of tall boys on the Long Island Rail Road for some "traingating." And while that's different, it certainly can be just as good.
I grew up with stories of the Dynasty years. My experience with the greats of the early 1980s started and stopped with grainy highlight videos, and standing ovations you gave them when they came back to the building that you knew they more than deserved, yet couldn't attest to from firsthand experience. The stories echo forever in history, but they're confined there, just like the days 1255 Hempstead Turnpike. Our future is what we start to build now, with John Tavares as determined as I've ever seen him, and a backup goaltender thrust into the spotlight. It's time to take all our pent up emotions and exercise them in the form of screams, cheers, and towel waving.
So for every playoff story we had at the building - from Tonelli-to-Nystrom to Bates' penalty shot to Tavares 15 seconds in - we have the opportunity to make new memories beginning on Sunday night. This series is going to be a hard fought one, and no one outside that Islanders locker room and our fan base is giving the boys a short. We need to help them assert a home ice advantage, and that starts with the decibel levels inside the building.
So tomorrow, I make my very first trip to Barclays Center with no reservations. Let's be so loud that Kate Murray will hear us. Let's Rock the Barc.

Tags: Brian Erni

New York Islanders fans cheer center Brock Nelson (29) before game two of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. (Robert Mayer)
New York Islanders fans cheer center Brock Nelson (29) before game two of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center. (Robert Mayer)

The Islanders dropped Game 2 to the Panthers despite a great effort, and it's hard not to pin it on one line in particular.
Nikolay Kulemin, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey were on the ice for both of the Panthers' goals. Capuano quickly swapped Nelson with Alan Quine, spelling his first lineup shuffle of the season.
"We left [Thomas Greiss] out to dry on those goals," Capuano told reporters after the game. "It's not just on those three players, it's a unit of five out there, and we made a couple mistakes."
All three players ended with a negative plus-minus for the evening (Kulemin and Bailey -2, Nelson -3).

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

After being the Isles' worst line by a long shot in Game 1, Kulemin, Nelson, and Bailey were abysmal again. On the Panthers' first goal, Kulemin couldn't get a puck deep in the zone, and had it poked away from him. It directly resulted in a turnover that led to Reilly Smith's third of the series. Smith was just standing on the ice, not picked up defensively by any forward (It was presumably Nelson who missed the assignment, since he was standing in front of the net looking like he was out for a pleasure skate).
Then, on Nick Bjudstad's goal that put Florida up 2-0, Bailey simply lost him, letting Bjugstad get in front of him, then compounded it with the weakest attempt at a poke check I've ever seen. This goal was really the backbreaker, because the Panthers were sucking wind by the end of the goal. If the Isles had been able to even it up before Florida got a two-goal cushion, there likely would have been a much different outcome.
It's just flat out not good enough, and hopefully the line shuffle will help. Ryan Strome and Alan Quine have been fantastic this series, generating plenty of chances. For Kulemin and Bailey, veterans that should be desperate to help the Isles to the next round and shouldn't be susceptible to these kinds of mistakes, they need to get a lot better and in a hurry. New York can't survive with these guys being a complete and utter drag. 

Tags: Brock Nelson , Josh Bailey , Thomas Greiss , Brian Erni
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