The playoff picture cleared up for the Florida Panthers on Sunday when the New York Islanders became their first round opponent.
With New York losing its final game of the season, it sealed its fate for a trip to Sunrise. The Islanders ended up with 100 points and a fourth place finish in the Metropolitan Division. The Panthers had 103 points and came in first in the Atlantic Division.
Florida and New York have a long and storied history in the regular season, but the two teams have never met in the playoffs. This series will also feature the first NHL playoff game played in Brooklyn. The Islanders began playing at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York full-time this season after a long stay in Nassau Coliseum.
In the 2015-16 season, Florida and New York took the ice together three times. Two of those meetings came in Brooklyn and the other was in Sunrise. That game at BB&T Center happened on November 27th and the result was a 3-2 Florida win. The shootout victory kicked off a five-game win streak for the Panthers at the time.
On December 15th, the teams would meet again and Florida would skate off with a 5-1 win. That victory began Florida's franchise record 12-game win streak which was the highlight of a remarkable season for the Panthers.
In their third and final meeting on March 14th, the Panthers had one of their toughest losses of the year. Winning 2-0 going into the final period, Florida allowed three goals and fell 3-2. The loss ended up sandwiched between two wins on both sides for the resilient squad.
The first round will begin at BB&T Center on Thursday at 8:00 p.m and will be televised on CNBC. Game two which will also take place in Sunrise will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
Games three and four of the series will be played in Brooklyn on Sunday, April 17th and Wednesday, April 20th. Both games are scheduled for 8:00 p.m. starts.
If necessary, games five through seven would alternate between Sunrise and Brooklyn with start times to be determined. The dates of those games would be April 22, 24, and 26 respectively.