Islanders aim to locate offense in clash vs. Panthers
Posted on: 27 Jan, 2024 at 12:40 PM
Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Islanders are 1-2-0 since Patrick Roy replaced Lane Lambert as the team's head coach. They are set to host the Florida Panthers on Saturday night in Elmont, N.Y.
Lambert didn't get much of a shot. In his only full season as coach, he led the Islanders to the playoffs, where they fell in six games during their first-round series loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. He compiled a 61-46-20 record during his time as New York' coach.
As for Roy, Saturday marks exactly one week since he was named coach. The Hall of Fame goaltender is getting his second chance as an NHL head coach following his three-season stint with the Colorado Avalanche (2013-16).
Roy inherits an Islanders club that ranks just 24th in the league with 2.92 goals per game. The Islanders are even worse in penalty-kill percentage (73.0), which is next-to-last in the NHL.
The Islanders suffered a blow on Friday as free agent Zach Parise decided to sign with Colorado. Parise recorded 21 goals and 34 points for the Islanders last season.
However, New York got good news in Thursday's 4-3 loss at the Montreal Canadiens as goalie Semyon Varlamov and forward Pierre Engvall returned from injury.
"When you're out, it's not fun," said Engvall, who notched a minus-2 rating on Thursday.
Varlamov also looked rusty as he allowed four goals and had just an .846 save percentage.
The last time Varlamov won a game was on Dec. 13 against the Anaheim Ducks.
For the season, Varlamov, 35, is 6-5-2 with a 2.87 goals-against average. Co-starter Ilya Sorokin, 28, is 14-12-9 with a career-high 3.17 GAA.
Offensively, the Islanders are led in goals by Brock Nelson (21). Defenseman Noah Dobson tops the squad in assists (45) and points (51).
While the Islanders were off on Friday, the Panthers killed seven of their eight penalties in a 3-2 shootout victory over the host Pittsburgh Penguins.
Meanwhile, the Panthers went 2-for-3 with the man advantage to win their seventh straight road game.
Sergei Bobrovsky earned his 23rd win of the season -- the most by any Eastern Conference goalie this season.
Since the Panthers will be playing on consecutive nights, it's expected they will use backup goalie Anthony Stolarz on Saturday. Stolarz has been excellent this season: 7-4-2 with a 2.12 GAA.
Florida's offensive star is winger Sam Reinhart, who has a 12-game point streak. Reinhart leads the Panthers in goals (36) and points (61), and he also had the game-winning shot in Friday's shootout.
"It's nice to be put in that position to be able to succeed," Reinhart said, "and it's nice to see the puck go in."
Carter Verhaeghe is second on the team in goals (24), and Matthew Tkachuk ranks third (15).
Captain Aleksander Barkov, who is healthy after missing three games due to injury, leads the Panthers with 36 assists.
The Panthers are healthy aside from Nick Cousins, who is in concussion protocol.
The Panthers will be looking to avenge a 4-3 loss to the Islanders on Dec. 2. New York never trailed in that game despite one goal each by Reinhart, Tkachuk and Verhaeghe.
--Field Level Media