Photo courtesy of nhl.com

The New York Islanders have been playing from behind for almost their entire first round series against the Florida Panthers. One reason for that is because the Panthers have gotten off to fast starts in three of the first four games. Goals at 1:09, 4:32, 6:17, and 2:25 have put the Isles behind the 8-ball.

After taking back home ice advantage from the Panthers with an overtime win in game 3, the Isles came out with very little energy in game 4 and managed only a handful of uneventful shots on goal. Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic’s shot from the slot midway through the third period sealed the game as it found the back of the net. The 2-1 win by the Panthers has sent the two teams back to Florida, ultimately making this now a best-of-three series.

Many online casinos and sports books like RealBet Sportsbook, are holding true to their opening lines in regards to the outcome of the series. This shouldn’t come as any surprise with two of the next three games (games 5 and 7) in Sunrise, Florida.

If health is any indication as to playoff success, the Islanders have been bitten once again by the playoff injury bug. Last year it was the Isles best defensive defenseman, Travis Hamonic missing their first round loss to the Washington Capitals. Now this year not only are the Isles without forward Anders Lee, but now defenseman Ryan Pulock is out with an undisclosed injury.  Searching for their first playoff series win since 1993, the Islanders just keep finding ways not to put their best team on the ice.

This is a big blow for the Isles. Pulock has been used on the powerplay recently and has one powerplay goal and three assists so far in the series. Coach Jack Capuano has recently featured Pulock’s 105 MPH slapshot on the powerplay and it has paid off.

For the Islanders to win game 5 tonight, they need to be the aggressors early on in the game and set the tone. It can’t only be the fourth line of Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck doing all the hitting. Guys like Brock Nelson (6’3″ 200 lbs) and Nikolay Kulemin (6’1″ 225 lbs) need to start making the smaller and quicker Panthers forwards pay for entering the zone. Too many times the Florida defenseman have made long stretch passes through the neutral zone which have lead to quality scoring chances.

One final note, Panthers winger Jaromir Jagr has gone 35 games without scoring a goal in the playoffs. You will see the graphic 15 times tonight…until he scores. Yes. HE WILL SCORE A GOAL TONIGHT. With his assist in game four, Jagr now has 200 career playoff points.