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Determined Panthers even the series with 3-1 victory over Islanders

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Smith's two points, Luongo's 41 stops highlight big Cats' win

Robert Duyos-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday night in Sunrise, the Florida Panthers handed the New York Islanders a 3-1 loss to even the opening round best-of-seven series at one game apiece. The Panthers will head to Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY for games three and four. The victory also guaranteed a return to Sunrise for game five on Friday.

Roberto Luongo, fresh off giving up five goals in the series-opening loss, turned aside 41 Islanders' shots for a muchl-needed victory, his first in his last eight playoff games.

First Period

With 4:32 elapsed in the first period, Jonathan Huberdeau skated down the left side of the ice and hit Nick Bjugstad in stride. Bjugstad put the puck on Thomas Greiss, and a streaking Reilly Smith smacked home the rebound for his third goal in the two playoff games and a 1-0 Florida lead.

The Panthers registered 13 shots on goal to 11 for the Islanders through the opening period, but unlike Greiss, Luongo did not allow a marker. Both teams directed 19 shots towards the appropriate goaltender, both teams won nine faceoffs, and the Isles outhit the Cats by a slim 11 to 10 margin. Aaron Ekblad had three of them by himself.

Second Period

At the 6:17 mark of the second frame, Smith gathered a puck off the boards from Dmitry Kulikov just behind and to the right of Greiss. He found Bjugstad driving hard toward the net, and slung the puck to the big guy for a 2-0 Panthers lead and the eventual game-winner. It was Smith's fifth point (and second assist) of the series.

The two clubs got super-chippy near the end of the period, which concluded with Florida's Derek MacKenzie, Shawn Thornton, and Garrett Wilson, along with New York's Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, and Matt Martin all sitting in the penalty box.

The Islanders outshot the Cats 25 to 16, getting 16 on net to 10 for the Panthers, but again, Luongo stood strong, stopping all shots (including four high-danger scoring chances). The Isles outhit the Panthers 10 to 6, but Florida won 15-of-21 faceoffs, controlling possession after most play stoppages. Bjugstad, Rocco Grimaldi, and MacKenzie combined to win 12-of-16 draws.

Third Period

Neither team would light the lamp until there was less than four minutes remaining. Nick Leddy shot the puck wide off the boards behind Luongo's stick side, and John Tavares slapped the bouncing biscuit past the goaltender to ruin what would have been his sixth career postseason shutout. Kyle Okposo also earned a helper on the play.

The Islanders eventually pulled Greiss, and Jussi Jokinen barely missed a length-of-the-ice shot with 15 seconds left. After the resulting icing penalty, Aleksander Barkov won the faceoff, and Kulikov chopped it home from Florida's zone for a 3-1 final lead with 10 seconds remaining. Panthers' fans pelted the ice with rubber rats, and the last bit of the contest was delayed while workers cleared the surface.

New York attempted 24 shots to 14 for the Cats, and got 15 on Luongo to just eight on Greiss. The Islanders again outhit the Panthers, this time 11 to 6, and each team won a dozen faceoffs.

Minutes and Seconds

  • Reilly Smith has figured in five of Florida's seven goals through the series thus far, but he's going to need help from Florida's dangerous top line over the next three to five games.
  • Shawn Thornton led the Panthers with five hits, Aaron Ekblad had four, and Alex Petrovic had three.
  • Nick Bjugstad and Derek MacKenzie each won nine-of-16 faceoffs, and Rocco Grimaldi was five-of-six in the dot, a huge improvement for the rookie over his opening game performance.
  • Luongo's win puts his all-time postseason record at 33-32, and raised his Stanley Cup Playoff save percentage one point to .916. His GAA also improved 2/100th's of a goal to 2.55.
  • Somehow, Jaromir Jagr hasn't scored a postseason goal in 33 games now. I'm sure this is the first you're hearing about it. This last time Jagr lit the lamp in the playoffs was as a Flyer in a 8-5 win over the Penguins on April 13, 2012.
  • The fine folks at war-on-ice have some fancy stats for you here.
  • NHL.com has a highlight package for you to see with your own eyes.
  • Sail by Lighthouse Hockey for their take on Game Two of the series.

Player

TOI

Corsi For

Corsi Against

Corsi Relative

Offensive Zone Starts

Defensive Zone Starts

Zone Start Relative

Corsi-ZS relative

Aleksander Barkov

19.1

23

24

0.49

5

11

0.31

0.18

Brian Campbell

20.8

18

28

0.39

4

14

0.22

0.17

Erik Gudbranson

22.8

16

33

0.33

4

18

0.18

0.14

Dmitry Kulikov

25.1

22

22

0.50

7

11

0.39

0.11

Jussi Jokinen

19

14

17

0.45

6

11

0.35

0.10

Reilly Smith

20

15

16

0.48

7

11

0.39

0.09

Jonathan Huberdeau

18.2

23

25

0.48

6

7

0.46

0.02

Teddy Purcell

12.8

7

10

0.41

2

3

0.40

0.01

Jaromir Jagr

17.5

22

24

0.48

6

6

0.50

-0.02

Aaron Ekblad

22.3

24

23

0.51

7

6

0.54

-0.03

Nick Bjugstad

17.2

13

17

0.43

6

7

0.46

-0.03

Jiri Hudler

13.2

7

11

0.39

3

4

0.43

-0.04

Derek MacKenzie

15.7

9

22

0.29

5

8

0.38

-0.09

Shawn Thornton

6.8

6

11

0.35

3

3

0.50

-0.15

Rocco Grimaldi

8.3

5

6

0.45

2

1

0.67

-0.21

Garrett Wilson

7.4

5

11

0.31

3

2

0.60

-0.29

Alex Petrovic

13.8

9

14

0.39

6

2

0.75

-0.36

Michael Matheson

14.1

8

17

0.32

8

1

0.89

-0.57

I ordered the above table by the final column, a made-up statistic which takes into account a player's Relative Corsi and stacks it up against that same player's Relative Zone Starts. The higher numbers indicate generally positive puck movement from the defensive zone to the offensive zone, and the negative numbers show the opposite. I'm not going to break it down in any way, I'll just put it right here and let all you good people take a look at it.

Keep it dialed in here at LBC for further development as game three gets closer. Hopefully, Vincent Trocheck will join the fray and get some of that sneaky good mojo going. Game time is set for 8 pm on Sunday night on NBCSN.