3 Keys: Panthers vs. Islanders, Game 2 of Cup Qualifiers


No. 10 Panthers vs. No. 7 Islanders


New York leads best-of-5 series, 1-0 

Johnny Boychuk is questionable to play for the New York Islanders against the Florida Panthers in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the hub city for the Eastern Conference, on Tuesday. 

The defenseman was injured at 2:44 of the second period in New York’s 2-1 win in Game 1 of the best-of-5 series on Saturday after an illegal check to the head from Florida defenseman Mike Matheson. 

Islanders coach Barry Trotz said defensemen Andy Greene and Noah Dobson are the options to replace Boychuk. Dobson, like Boychuk, is a right-handed shot. 

“It doesn’t really matter what hand, I’m comfortable with our 10 defensemen right now,” Trotz said. “I will tell you this, it will be one of Greene or Dobson. [They’ll] both be on the ice tomorrow and we’ll make the decision there.” 

Here are 3 keys for Game 2: 


1. More from Islanders’ top line 

New York is obviously comfortable playing a low-scoring game, but its top forward line of Anders Lee, Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle combined for two shots on goal Saturday. 

“We were quiet; not a lot for or against,” Lee said. “It was just one of those games we couldn’t seem to get anything going, anything sustained, and our rushes were a little bit one-and-done. … We’re trying to create a little bit more, hold on to the puck, try to find some opportunities. [We’re] definitely looking to generate a lot more than what we did in Game 1.” 


2. Panthers must show desperation 

Teams that have lost the first two games are 1-55 winning a best-of-5 NHL series (1.8 percent) (1-39 when used from 1980-86). The Islanders defeated the Washington Capitals in a 1985 series.

Clearly, the Panthers will need to play with more desperation than Saturday, when they had five shots on goal in the third period. 

“There’s still a strong belief in this group that we’re going to win this series,” Florida forward Mike Hoffman said. … “There’s still a lot of hockey to be played. I think we can get to the net a little more and make it harder on them to defend.” 


3. New York needs to remain disciplined 

The Panthers power play was tied for 10th in the NHL during the regular season (21.3 percent), but the Islanders were composed and never tried to retaliate for the hit on Boychuk. Florida was 0-for-1 Saturday. 

“We talk about understanding what’s important, it’s the end goal,” Trotz said. “You can have long memories and all that. … We don’t want to be emotionally out of control.” 


Panthers projected lineup 

Frank VatranoAleksander BarkovEvgenii Dadonov

Jonathan HuberdeauErik Haula — Mike Hoffman

Lucas WallmarkBrian BoyleBrett Connolly

Colton SceviourNoel AcciariMark Pysyk

MacKenzie WeegarAaron Ekblad

Keith YandleMike Matheson

Riley StillmanAnton Stralman

Sergei Bobrovsky

Chris Driedger

Scratched: Dryden Hunt, Eetu Luostarinen, Aleksi Saarela, Owen Tippett, Dominic Toninato, Josh Brown, Brady Keeper, Chase Priskie, Philippe Desrosiers, Sam Montembeault 


Islanders projected lineup 

Anders Lee — Mathew Barzal — Jordan Eberle

Anthony BeauvillierBrock NelsonJosh Bailey

Tom KuhnhacklJean-Gabriel PageauDerick Brassard

Matt MartinCasey CizikasCal Clutterbuck

Adam PelechRyan Pulock

Devon ToewsScott Mayfield

Nick Leddy — Noah Dobson

Semyon Varlamov

Thomas Greiss

Scratched: Michael Dal Colle, Ross Johnston, Otto Koivula, Leo Komarov, Andrew Ladd, Sebastian Aho, Andy Greene, Thomas Hickey, Christopher Gibson 

Unfit to play: Johnny Boychuk 

Status report 

Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said Sceviour, who had one shift in the third period, is fine. … Wallmark, who was unfit to play Game 1, could make his series debut. … Trotz said Boychuk was the only Islanders player who did not practice Monday.

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