The Atlantic Division-champion Florida Panthers (47-26-9) will be on the brink of elimination if they don’t beat the New York Islanders (45-27-10) Wednesday night. The Islanders have taken a 2-1 lead over Florida in this Eastern Conference quarterfinal, winning Game 1 as +140 road dogs and Game 3 as –115 home favourites. Game 4 at Barclays Center starts at 7 PM ET.
Even though New York has the advantage, this has been a very close matchup, with each team scoring 10 goals after three games. That’s still an impressive performance by the Islanders; they were the underdogs going into the first round, posting a decent plus-16 goal differential during the regular season compared to Florida’s plus-36. The Panthers won their season series 2-1, outscoring New York 10-6.
The Islanders have also done very well considering they don’t have forwards Anders Lee (15 goals, 36 points) and Mikhail Grabovski (nine goals, 25 points) available for the first round. Lee suffered a broken left leg earlier this month, while Grabovski is out indefinitely with concussion-like symptoms. Meanwhile, Panthers centre Vincent Trocheck (25 goals, 53 points) could return from his broken foot in either Game 4 or Game 5.