SUNRISE (SportsDirect Inc.) — New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano is struggling to locate his offense on the heels of his team’s mandated five-day break in the schedule.
After mustering just three goals since flipping the calendar, the Islanders look to avert a season sweep by the Florida Panthers on Friday when the clubs complete a home-and-home set at BB&T Center.
Capuano was quick to compliment the play of goaltender Thomas Greiss, who made 22 saves in Wednesday’s 2-1 setback and has yielded just 10 goals in his last six starts (3-1-2).
“I just think it’s tough for goaltenders when you don’t get run support,” Capuano told Newsday on Thursday. “And we have to find a way, obviously, just three goals in the last three games. Continue to find a way to create some offense and when we get the opportunity, bury it.”
Florida is hardly setting the league on fire with its 27th-ranked offense (2.3 goals per game), but its stingy defensive play has turned 11 goals into a 4-2-0 mark in its last six contests.
The Panthers have outscored the opposition 11-3 on their four-game road winning streak, but home cookin’ has proven sour in Sunrise with losses in six of their last seven (1-3-3).
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, MSG-Plus (New York), FSN Florida
ABOUT THE ISLANDERS (15-16-8): While Nick Leddy has scored in both encounters versus Florida this season, the news is decidedly worse for fellow defenseman Travis Hamonic. The 26-year-old’s injury-plagued season continued as he was placed on IR on Thursday after sustaining a lower-body ailment against Arizona last weekend, prompting New York to recall fellow blue-liner Scott Mayfield from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League. The 24-year-old recorded one goal and two assists in three games with the Islanders this season.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (19-16-8): Although the forwards are struggling, a pair of defensemen chipped in offensively on Wednesday as Keith Yandle and Jason Demers each scored a goal to add to their impressive seasons. Yandle’s 17 assists are one shy of Aleksander Barkov and future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr for the team lead while Demers’ eight goals represent a career high. Veteran Roberto Luongo has been in net for both meetings this season against the team that drafted him fourth overall in 1997. He is expected to bid for his 450th career victory on Friday.
1. Jagr has been held off the scoresheet in three straight games after recording 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in his previous 15.
2. New York captain John Tavares has failed to secure a point in seven of his last 10 contests.
3. The Panthers are 1-for-18 on the power play in the last five games and 0-for-6 with the man advantage versus the Islanders this season.
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