|2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Round 1, Game 6|
|Florida Panthers @ New York Islanders|
|Series: 2-2, NYI leads|
|Sunday, April 24th, 2016 – 7:00PM EST|
|Barclays Center – Brooklyn, NY
SUN, CBC, NBCSN, TVAS
FLA: Luongo (2-1-2, .926, 2.24)
NYI: Greiss (3-2-0, .938, 2.09)
Between The Lines
For the first time in this series, a team will be facing elimination and that team is the Florida Panthers. After losing a double OT thriller by a score of 2-1 in the wee hours of Saturday morning, the Panthers will head back to Brooklyn for game 6 with the hopes of making a last ditch effort to tie the series at 3 and force a game 7 in South Florida. Frans Nielsen opened the scoring of game 5 in the 1st period on a net-front rebound, and the Panthers wouldn’t tie it up until about 2 minutes into the 3rd period when Aleksander Barkov received a beautiful cross-ice pass from Alex Petrovic and put it into what was essentially an empty net.
The two teams were at a deadlock as they entered the 2nd overtime period and that’s when the Panthers were called for two consecutive penalties, the first of which they were able to kill off. Islanders rookie Alan Quine capitalized on the second one with a one-timer from the right face-off circle to give his team the 3-2 series lead. Early in the second overtime, the Panthers lost Nick Bjugstad to an upper body injury as his skate got caught in a rut in the ice causing him to go face-first into the dasher board. After laying on the ice for several minutes, Bjugstad got up with the help of the team’s medical staff and went to the locker room with blood running from above his eye.
The 23-year old center did not return to the game and did not travel with the team to New York, although he’s apparently not been ruled out for game 6 just yet as he’s still being evaluated and therefore listed as day-to-day. Bjugstad has a history of concussions, one of which occurred a couple years ago during the Panthers’ rookie camp, and he also missed all of December with mysterious migraines. Head coach Gerard Gallant says the team does not plan to recall a center from AHL Portland to replace Bjugstad and will instead move forward with Greg McKegg, Quinton Howden, or Shawn Thornton – who has been battling the flu for the past few days – for the remainder of the series. Fortunately for the Panthers, Vincent Trocheck, who missed 10 games with a fractured fibula suffered on March 29th, returned to the lineup on Friday and logged roughly 30 minutes of ice time.
The Panthers have controlled the play for the entire series thus far, especially at even strength, so it will be interesting to see how they’re able to bounceback considering the situation they’re now in. The Panthers are 2-4 all-time in playoff games where they’re facing elimination. The last and only time the Panthers were down 3-2 in a playoff series was during the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals against the Penguins when they went on to win 2 straight games to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Projected Line Combinations
|11 Huberdeau – 16 Barkov – 68 Jagr||L1||51 Nielsen – 91 Tavares – 21 Okposo|
|36 Jokinen – 21 Trocheck – 18 Smith||L2||86 Kulemin – 29 Nelson – 12 Bailey|
|26 Purcell – 17 MacKenzie – 24 Hudler||L3||11 Prince – 18 Strome– 10 Quine|
|28 Wilson – 48 Shaw – 22 Thornton||L4||17 Martin – 53 Cizikas – 15 Clutterbuck|
|51 Campbell – 6 Petrovic||D1||2 Leddy – 55 Boychuk|
|7 Kulikov – 44 Gudbranson||D2||44 de Haan – 3 Hamonic|
|56 Matheson – 5 Ekblad||D3||14 Hickey – 6 Pulock|
|1 Luongo – 35 Montoya||G||1 Greiss – 30 Berube|
|McKegg, Bjugstad, Howden, Kindl||X||Bernier, Boulton, Pelech, Zidlicky, Strait, Gibson|
|Mitchell, Bolland, Kampfer, Trocheck||INJ||Halak, Lee, Grabovski|
|Reilly Smith (4)||Goals||John Tavares (3)|
|Reilly Smith (4)||Assists||Tavares, Okposo (4)|
|Reilly Smith (8)||Points||John Tavares (7)|
|Reilly Smith (+7)||+/-||Prince, Strome (+3)|
|Jokinen, Purcell (1)||PPG||Frans Nielsen (2)|