For the third consecutive game, Florida coach Gerard Gallant altered his postseason lineup and went with seven defensemen and one less forward for Wednesday night’s Game 4 of the best-of-7 series against the Islanders.
Instead of going with 12 forwards and six defensemen, the Panthers added Jakub Kindl — scratched the previous two games — to the mix and sat center Greg McKegg as a precaution after one of Florida’s starting six was struck by a puck in warmups. Kindl didn’t take part in warmups and never left the bench in the first period.
Rookie Logan Shaw was also on the fourth line in place of veteran Shawn Thornton.
Shaw was sent back to Florida’s AHL affiliate in Portland, Maine, just a few weeks ago only to be called back in place of Rocco Grimaldi before Game 3.
On Wednesday, Shaw became the 11th Florida player — counting backup goalie Al Montoya — to make their Stanley Cup playoff debut.
If Steven Kampfer, Vincent Trocheck or Quinton Howden were to play in this postseason, the number could rise to 14.
“If I get into the lineup, it would be a dream come true,” Shaw said after Wednesday’s morning skate before the lineup was revealed.
“To be able to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs is another whole level. I’m really looking forward to doing what I do best.”
The Panthers haven’t received much offensive production from their bottom two lines heading into Wednesday, save for Jiri Hudler and Teddy Purcell hooking up for Florida’s initial goal of the playoffs early in Game 1.
New York, however, received strong play from its third line of Shane Prince, Alan Quine and Ryan Strome. Those three had two goals and four points and were a plus-8 in the first three games.
Grimaldi centered Florida’s third line in the opening two games, only to be replaced in the third period of Game 2 by fourth-line center Derek MacKenzie. Grimaldi was sent back to Portland on Saturday.
“[Shaw] has good speed [and] experience of playing with our team earlier this season,” Gallant said early Wednesday afternoon. “He works hard, kills some penalties and is a competitive guy. We like his work ethic. ... We like him, sent him [to Portland] to get some games, get some confidence again. He played well.”
Shaw was sent back to Portland on April 1 after seeing a lot of his playing time slip with the acquisitions of Hudler and Purcell at the trade deadline. In six games with Portland, Shaw had four goals and two assists.
“When I was sent down, I went down to work on my game and everyone there helped me,” said Shaw, who had five goals and two assists in 53 games with the Panthers this season. “I was playing with the puck, making plays.”
▪ Center Trocheck (foot) and defenseman Kampfer (ankle) both skated again Wednesday and continue to work their way back into the lineup. The two skated with defenseman Willie Mitchell (concussion) along with Florida’s scratched players.
▪ Reilly Smith had four goals and four assists in Florida’s first three games in this series, becoming the first player in franchise history to record three consecutive multi-point postseason games.
▪ Fox Sports Florida announced Friday’s Game 5 from BB&T Center will be carried on Sun Sports.