The New York Islanders are just getting started — when it comes to road games, that is. The Isles play the second of what is a 13-game roadie on Saturday night when they visit the Florida Panthers in Sunrise.
Why are the Islanders kicking off their season with so many road games?
Because their new palace — the UBS Arena at Belmont Park — is still under construction. The Islanders said their second round of goodbyes to the old Coliseum last season.
The Islanders will play their first game at Belmont on Nov. 20 against Calgary with tickets for that game selling out in 20 minutes.
On the ice, the Islanders’ much-anticipated season opened with a thud with a 6-3 loss in Carolina.
Still, this is a big game on the NHL’s first week as both the Panthers and Islanders are considered two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
This will be the first meeting between the Panthers and Islanders since the 2020 postseason bubble in Toronto.
New York eliminated the Panthers in four games and the roster has undergone a massive overhaul since.
Of the 20 players who dressed in Thursday’s season opener, only six were in Toronto for that qualification series.
“They are a very sound team, they play the right way positionally,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “They basically play errorless hockey and are patient. We have to not try to create too much in every situation. Let’s play the right game; simple is going to be part of our success.”
The Panthers opened their season with a bang, taking a 2-0 lead on the Penguins before penalty troubles found them down 4-2 in the third.
A pair of nifty goals from Aaron Ekblad helped force overtime where a nice save from Sergei Bobrovsky and a Carter Verhaeghe goal from a Sasha Barkov feed won it.
So, the Panthers roll into their second game rocking an unblemished record.
Quenneville said Bobrovsky will start after he made 43 saves in the win.
— Sam Bennett was missing from practice but Quenneville said he was fine.
Florida is expected to roll out the same lineup as it did on Thursday but don’t be surprised if Mason Marchment gets back in.
Marchment did not play Thursday as he missed a couple of days, but he has been back on the ice and may be ready to return.
Florida also made a couple of roster moves, sending Chase Priskie and Maxim Mamin to AHL Charlotte in time for its season opener Saturday night in Hershey.
— The Panthers gave the Penguins nine power play chances on Thursday and that is no recipe for future success.
”I don’t think that’s a trait we’re going to be accustomed to seeing,” Quenneville said. “I can’t ever remember having a team with nine penalties in a game. Especially in today’s game where you may have two or three — and that’s stretching it — and five means it’s a rough night. Nine, and getting two points out of it, I don’t think that’s ever going to happen again.”
The nine power play chances Florida gave up were the most since the Islanders got seven in Game 2 of the Toronto series. New York scored twice in a 4-2 win and went up 2-0 in the best-of-five series.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
NEW YORK ISLANDERS (0-1-0) AT FLORIDA PANTHERS (1-0-0)
- When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
- Radio: 790-AM
- 2021 regular season series: Did not play
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 51-32-11, 8 ties
- Odds via Bovada.lv: Florida (PL -1.5 +200) — (ML -125) — U/O 5.5
- Up next: Florida at Tampa Bay, Tuesday, 7 p.m.; Islanders at Chicago Blackhawks, Tuesday, 8 p.m.
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 13 Sam Reinhart
11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 9 Sam Bennett // 74 Owen Tippett
77 Frank Vatrano // 15 Anton Lundell // 70 Patric Hornqvist
94 Ryan Lomberg // 19 Joe Thornton // 10 Anthony Duclair
52 MacKenzie Weegar // 5 Aaron Ekblad
42 Gus Forsling // 7 Radko Gudas
8 Matt Kiersted // 62 Brandon Montour
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
30 Spencer Knight
Scratched: Eetu Luostarinen, Mason Marchment
Injured: Noel Acciari, Markus Nutivaara, Kevin Connauton, Olli Juolevi
PROJECTED NEW YORK ISLANDERS LINEUP
27 Anders Lee // 13 Mathew Barzal // 21 Kyle Palmieri
18 Anthony Beauvillier // 29 Brock Nelson // 12 Josh Bailey
11 Zach Parise // 44 Jean-Gabriel Pageau // 26 Oliver Wahlstrom
32 Ross Johnson // 53 Casey Cizikas // 15 Cal Clutterbuck
3 Adam Pelech // 6 Ryan Pulock
33 Zdeno Chara // 8 Noah Dobson
4 Andy Greene // 24 Scott Mayfield
30 Ilya Sorokin
35 Cory Schnieder