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New York Islanders vs Florida Panthers Preview: Halak pushes for franchise record

Incredible Halak?

Well this is all highly irregular.
Well this is all highly irregular.
Bruce Bennett

The New York Islanders are going for a franchise record tonight. We'll know if they achieve it by the end of the first period.

While they open a Florida back-to-back against the Panthers, the focus is on continuing a four-game win streak that began back in southern California. But almost overlooked in that string of success and modest defensive achievement is a potential new franchise best:

The Isles have now gone 181:11 without allowing a goal, which is 18:03 short of the record (199:14, set in March-April 1998), passing a February, 1994 streak of 162:00.

I wonder if the Isles have had some goalie issues over the years? Oh, and look there is Roberto Luongo dressed in red, and still among the top guys in the game.

Islanders (10-5, 2nd/Metro) @ Panthers (5-4-4, 7th/Atlantic)
7:30 p.m. EST | MSG+2 | WRHU
[Bed, Bath & Beyond] Center
Cat Scratch Forever: Litter Box Cats

To be fair, while Jaroslav Halak has been good in his two consecutive shutouts, he hasn't been overworked. The Islanders have kept shots against down, and the results have come by overtime, by shootout, by late-game winner and by blowout.

Halak, incidentally, needs to get through 1:11 of the second period without allowing a goal to match his own personal best.

Bailey Returns

As anticipated, Josh Bailey is in for Cory Conacher, though not as direct one-for-one replacements. Bailey rejoins Frans Nielsen and Mikhail Grabovsky, while Cal Clutterbuck resumes life on the fourth line.

After paying lip service to not inserting Bailey right away yesterday, Jack Capuano fessed up this morning:

"I’m breaking up some lines here tonight to put him back in. He deserves that opportunity. He has to go in there as a skilled guy with that fourth-line mentality."

Panthers Notes

Aleksander Barkov is the hot sophomore who centers one of their top lines. But they'd like him to shoot more.

"I have to be more selfish because I’ve always thought ‘pass first.’ I have to change that mentality.’’

Still, big Nick Bjugstad -- on a line with fellow standout Jonathan Huberdeau and old friend Brad Boyes -- is the truly enticing threat, with a dash of rookie Aaron Ekblad thrown in on the blueline.

These will be some fun young players to see. And then over here you got Shawn Thornton.

Expected Florida lines:

Tomas Kopecky - Aleksander Barkov - Scottie Upshall
Jonathan Huberdeau - Nick Bjugstad - Brad Boyes
Jussi Jokinen - Vincent Trocheck - Jimmy Hayes
Tomas Fleischmann - Derek MacKenzie - Shawn Thornton

Willie Mitchell - Aaron Ekblad
Brian Campbell - Colby Robak
Dylan Olsen - Erik Gudbranson

Hockey Fights Cancer

The Panthers are holding Hockey Fights Cancer night on Friday, so all 5,000 fans will receive commemorative silicon wrist bands. :rimshot:

FIG Picks

Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight here. Don't pick Conacher.