TAMPA, Fla. – Valtteri Filppula had one of his best seasons in the NHL while a member of the Lightning, one of four NHL franchises for which the Finnish center has played.
But the new Islander prefers the different experiences each organization brings.
“Yeah, I do,” Filppula said Thursday as the Islanders faced the Lightning at Amalie Arena. “You get to meet a lot of different people, which is awesome. I don’t mind at all.”
Filppula, 34, signed a one-year, $2.75-million deal with the Islanders after spending the last two seasons with the Flyers. He was with the Red Wings for seven seasons before playing for the Lightning from 2013-17.
He had a career-high 25 goals along with 33 assists in 2013-14 and then helped the Lightning reach the 2015 Stanley Cup final, where they lost to the Blackhawks.
“All the organizations I’ve been with have been really good and it’s the same thing with the Islanders,” Filppula said. “The home-game situation is a little different and the travel to home games [at Barclays Center] is not what I normally had to do. But that’s another experience as well.”
Barzal closes in on milestone
Center Mathew Barzal entered Thursday with 97 career points in 98 games, giving him a chance to become the 11th NHL player in the past 25 seasons to notch 100 points in his first 100 games.
“It’d be cool, I’m sure, but I’m not begging for it or hunting for it,” Barzal said. “I had no idea. I don’t even know where I’m at.”
Still a rival
Lightning defenseman Dan Girardi, who played for the Rangers from 2007-17, played in his 58th career game against the Islanders. He still feels a bit of that New York rivalry.
“A little bit,” Girardi said. “That’s been a big part of my career, no matter where I am. Playing 58 games against one team, that’s quite a bit.”
Notes & Quotes
Tom Kuhnhackl replaced Ross Johnston in the lineup with left wing Matt Martin (upper body) missing his third straight game … Defenseman Luca Sbisa was a healthy scratch for the 10th straight game.