GAMEDAY — Panthers at Islanders, 5pm

Screen shot 2013-03-24 at 9.20.01 AM
Florida Panthers at New York Islanders, 5:00pm ET
Uniondale, NY — Nassau Coliseum — MSG+

Screen shot 2013-03-22 at 11.08.35 AMUNIONDALE, N.Y – It’s another important matchup for an Islander team desperately trying to make it to the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season. And despite the fact Florida Panthers will be coming into Nassau Coliseum right after playing the New Jersey Devils the night before, they won’t be taking them lightly.

“I don’t think that’s any real benefit,” Travis Hamonic said after practice Saturday morning. “I think it’s just something we have to be aware of and we have to make sure we get on them early. We played a lot of games as of late. I think we’re basically back-to-back, three and fours, so we have a day here to try and get a little rest.”

“I think we have to try and make sure we jump on them right from the start and let them know it’s going to be a hard game to play in our building.”

The Isles know all about playing back-to-back nights since they’ve done it this week. And when Panthers and Islanders faceoff tomorrow it will be the home team’s fourth game in six nights.

They will also be looking to try and replicate the start they had on Friday against the Penguins. The Islanders had one of their best periods of the year in the first, limiting their opponent to just three shots on net and controlling the majority of the puck possession.

“We were ready to play, we knew they were a hot team coming in [Friday] night, and we came out and played a pretty solid game,” John Tavares said. “Obviously we didn’t get the result, which is what matters most, but we come out with efforts like that I think some things will start to go our way a little bit more. We’re playing a team that’s been playing a little bit better lately and even though they’ve been having a tough season we can’t take them for granted.”

The Panthers have had two good wins in the last week. They defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1 on Tuesday and the New York Rangers on Thursday 3-1, before losing 2-1 in New Jersey Saturday night. Florida also came back from a 3-0 deficit last weekend against the Islanders, but ultimately fell 4-3.

“We felt pretty good [Friday],” Frans Nielsen said. “We came out hard even though we played the day before. We have to be ready, we know they’re going to be ready and they’ve been playing pretty good lately. It’s going to be a tough matchup.”

Hamonic agrees it will be a tough game against an opponent that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“I think tomorrow we have to get off to a good start,” he said. “They’re a team that’s playing well as of late. I think they had a good game against the Rangers a coupe of days ago and we’ll be ready. They’re a team that’s just playing. We have to match their start and we have to be better at home.”

This will be the final home for the Isles before they head out on a week long road trip.

Moulson – Tavares – Boyes
Bailey – Nielsen – Okposo
Grabner – Aucoin – McDonald
Cizikas – Reasoner – Martin

Hamonic – MacDonald
Streit – Carkner
Hickey – Visnovsky


Healthy scratches:
Martinek, Boulton, Finley