Florida (2-3) at NY Islanders (3-2)
When: Sunday, April 24th 2016
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
Time: 7:05 ET | TV: NBC Sports
The New York Islanders can advance in the postseason for the first time in 23 years on Sunday when they host Game 6 of their first-round series with the Florida Panthers. The Islanders survived Game 5 in Florida on Friday as Thomas Greiss (47 saves) denied Aleksander Barkov on a penalty shot in the first overtime before rookie Alan Quine’s one-timer beat Roberto Luongo exactly 16 minutes into the second overtime to secure the 2-1 win. Now the series shifts back to Barclays Center were the Isles were 25-11-5 during the regular season. New York has hosted a Game 6 with a chance to clinch a series in six other occasions in their history and have won all six. Greiss has stopped 74-of-77 shots in the last two games and can help the Islanders advance in the playoffs for the first time since they defeated Washington and Pittsburgh to advance to the 1993 Wales Conference final. The Islanders are 5-for-18 on the power play in this series after going 2-for-34 in both the 2013 and 2015 playoffs.
Nick Bjugstad, whose four points (two goals, two assists) are second on the team this series, is listed as day-to-day after losing an edge and falling face-first into the boards early in the second overtime on Friday. “He got looked at (on Friday night), he got looked at (Saturday) morning like all the other players that are banged up, and then I’ll know from there,” Gallant told reporters of Bjugstad. Veteran Shawn Thornton and fellow forwards Quinton Howden and Gregg McKegg are candidates to play on Sunday should Bjugstad sit out. Reilly Smith leads the Panthers with eight points (four goals, four assists) despite being held off the scoresheet in Game 5. Luongo allowed nine goals in Games 1 and 3, but has only allowed four total in the other three games including a 42-save effort in the overtime loss on Friday.
History is on the side of the Islanders in this Game 6 and so is momentum. I think New York comes out on fire and takes an early lead and cruises into the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Pick: Islanders -110