The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning face off in the first of two meetings over the next 10 days. The third and final game of the season series will be back in Brooklyn on Monday, April 4, the night before the Isles face the Capitals in Washington for the final time this season.
- Tampa is trying to regain its division lead in the (New) Atlantic, where the Panthers are in first by two points (91) but have played one more game (74).
- The Islanders can jump back out of the wild card and into third place in the Metro, where they trail the Penguins by one point and have a game in hand.
- The standings are so tight, tonight's combatants could each have home ice advantage in the playoffs, could end up each starting on the road, or could even face each other.
As an interesting side note, the Islanders are one point (87) above the Bruins, who currently hold third place in the Atlantic but are in danger of dropping out of the playoffs thanks to Detroit and Philadelphia.
Islanders (39-24-9, 4th/Metro) @ Lightning (42-26-5, 2nd/Atlantic)
7:30 p.m. EDT | MSG+
[French girl film, or maybe a detergent?] Arena
It's yzlectric: Raw Charge
The Islanders have a unique claim in that they've defeated the Lightning four times in a row, though they've hardly dominated them. Thomas Greiss, who backstopped the win in their previous visit to Tampa way back in November (and stopped Steven Stamkos on a penalty shot), is in net. The rest of the skaters (including Ryan Pulock) remain the same from their win over Ottawa.
That likely means Jean-Francois Berube gets the start tomorrow night in Raleigh. If you missed it, Newsday's Arthur Staple gave the strongest hint yet that Berube is not only "really liked" by the Isles management but in their future plans, leaving a question for the injured Jaroslav Halak's own future.
This back-to-back is the team's annual dads trip, leaving one of the best lines for Jack Capuano:
Capuano this morning on having the #Isles dads on the trip, "Well hopefully it will work if not, will go with the mom's next week."— Scott Charles (@ScottmCharles) March 25, 2016
Via the team sites, here's Lightning coach Jon Cooper describing tonight:
"barn burner written all over it. Two teams are coming in here to gut one out."
And their captain, Steven Stamkos:
"[The Isles] are a very hungry team and they are in the middle of a playoff fight," Stamkos said. "Every point is key. One day you're in a wild-card spot and if you have a good weekend you can be competing for the division."
"When you are playing games that have playoff implications it should only help you," Stamkos said. "These games are so important that we know we have to stay sharp and stick to our structure."
Structure, baby. Structshah.
The Lightning, who are expected to start Ben Bishop, are without Valtteri Filppula and Ryan Callahan.
Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for tonight here by 7:30 p.m. EDT.