Jack Capuano hinted at a change among his forwards for Sunday night’s Game 3 but went back with the same lineup for the third straight game. He even reunited the struggling trio of Nikolay Kulemin, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey to start the game.
Capuano decided to stick with wingers Kulemin and Bailey, who had poor showings the first two games. Kulemin is one of the Islanders’ top penalty-killing forwards, so it was unlikely he’d come out. Bailey’s status as a long-term member of the team’s core helped keep him in the lineup despite no points and a minus-4 rating.
The Panthers made one change, putting Greg McKegg in the lineup to replace rookie Rocco Grimaldi, who was sent to the AHL after Friday’s Game 2 Panthers win.
Ice is . . . nice?
All the talk in recent weeks about the Barclays Center ice conditions made some Isles wonder what it would be like for Game 3. A couple players said the ice was soft for the morning skate.
“I’ve seen some buildings where it’s soft in the morning and then fine for the game,” Kyle Okposo said, “so you just have to wait and see.”
Okposo was very vocal two weeks ago about the poor ice conditions, and Barclays Center worked hard with the NHL to improve the surface for the final two regular-season games last weekend. Dehumidifiers were installed last week to try to keep the building cooler as outdoor temperatures went up.
Odds and ends
The Islanders gave up the first goal for the third straight game, and it was the third straight game the Panthers scored in the opening five minutes . . . Jaromir Jagr played his 205th playoff game, tying Martin Brodeur for 17th.