The New York Islanders and Florida Panthers both have one win in their first four games. However, the Panthers are feeling much better about themselves heading into Saturday, when Florida visits the Islanders in Uniondale, N.Y.
Both teams will be playing on short rest after absorbing road losses Friday night. The Panthers fell to the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in a shootout while the Islanders dropped a 5-2 decision to the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Panthers overcame a 2-0 deficit in the third period and forced overtime when Mike Hoffman scored with 11 seconds remaining in regulation. Florida outshot the Sabres 21-6 in the third period and overtime before falling when Buffalo's Jack Eichel and Casey Mittelstadt scored the only goals in the shootout.
"We had a good third period," head coach Joel Quenneville said of his Panthers, who outshot the Sabres 43-32 overall. "There was a lot more quality in that game than the score indicated."
The same could not be said for the Islanders, who entered the third period trailing the Hurricanes 4-2 but were outshot 15-2 over the final 20 minutes. Carolina outshot New York 40-19 overall.
It was the second straight 5-2 loss for the Islanders, who gave up five unanswered goals -- including a natural hat trick to James Neal -- Tuesday night against the Edmonton Oilers.
"Things aren't going exactly how you want to -- you just have to dig deeper," Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock said after the Carolina game. "We really have to regroup here. We have another test (Saturday) where we really have to bounce back."
The back-to-back set is the first of the season for both teams and will likely result in each squad starting its backup goalie.
Semyon Varlamov was expected to serve as the 1-A for the Islanders after he signed with the team in July. However, Varlamov sat in favor of Thomas Greiss on Friday after giving up six goals on 47 shots over his first two starts and getting pulled Tuesday, when he stopped 15 of 19 shots against the Oilers.
Sergei Bobrovsky has started the first four games of the season for the Panthers, which could open the door for Sam Montembeault to appear in net Saturday night. Montembeault stopped 19 of 20 shots over the final two periods Tuesday night in relief of Bobrovsky, who was pulled after giving up four first-period goals in a 6-3 loss to the Hurricanes.
Montembeault hasn't started since the penultimate game of last season, when he stopped 35 shots against the Islanders but took the defeat in a 2-1 shootout loss. It was Montembeault's first appearance against New York.
Varlamov is 7-3-1 in 11 starts against the Panthers.
The Islanders are looking to avoid their worst five-game start since the 2009-10 season, when they opened 0-2-3. The Panthers struggled out of the gate last year, when they went 1-2-2 in the first five games en route to dropping eight of their first 10 contests.
--Field Level Media