|Fresh Panthers visit stale Islanders|
NEW YORK -- The Florida Panthers are looking forward to playing Wednesday night because it will provide them an opportunity to forget about what happened Tuesday.
The New York Islanders are looking forward to Wednesday night so they can confirm they haven't forgotten how to play hockey.
The Panthers will complete a back-to-back set Wednesday night, when they visit the Islanders in New York's first home game in more than two weeks at Barclays Center.
Both teams are coming off lopsided losses. The Panthers suffered their first multi-goal defeat of the season Tuesday, when they fell to the host New York Rangers, 5-2. The Islanders last played Saturday night, when they completed a 1-3-0 road trip by dropping a 4-1 decision to the San Jose Sharks.
The defeat Tuesday continued a frustrating trend for the Panthers (1-3-3), who scored first for the sixth time in seven games. Florida has led in all of its losses.
"We came out and played pretty well and got the first goal," Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad said afterward. "Usually, that's enough to spark the team and inspire all of us to play at a higher level. For some reason, we have a tough time holding on to leads. Once we get that lead, we aren't playing aggressive enough."
The Islanders (3-4-0) feel as if they aren't playing enough, period. While they are one of six teams to have played seven or fewer games, no one else has experienced as sporadic a schedule as New York, which has already had two three-day breaks and one four-day break.
In addition, Wednesday marks the third home game for the Islanders, who are splitting this season between Barclays Center in Brooklyn and their old home, Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. Only the Arizona Coyotes have played as few as two home games.
"Every team we've played against is what you (would) consider a playoff team," Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey told Newsday following practice Tuesday. New York's last six games have been against teams that qualified for the postseason last year.
"That's the good part of it. The bad part is when you have four days between a game, you might lose your game legs a little bit. You're almost easing your way into the game, just defending and playing smart, whereas it's not really instinctual like when you're playing three games in four nights or playing every other night for a month, which is what everyone would prefer."
James Reimer, who replaced Michael Hutchinson in net early in the third period Tuesday, is likely to draw the start in goal for the Panthers on Wednesday night.
Reimer, who stopped both shots he faced against the Rangers, last started Friday, when he was pulled for Hutchinson in the second period after giving up four goals on 20 shots in what turned out to be a 6-5 shootout win over the Washington Capitals.
The Islanders are expected to counter with Thomas Greiss, who has split time this season with Robin Lehner.
Greiss, who sat in favor of Lehner the previous two games, last played Thursday, when he recorded five saves in relief of Lehner in New York's 7-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Greiss made his most recent start Oct. 17, when he took the defeat after making 21 saves in a 4-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.
Reimer is 5-2-2 in 12 games against the Islanders. Greiss is 2-2-1 in five regular-season appearances against the Panthers, though he was the only goalie used by the Islanders in their six-game win over Florida in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in 2016.