The Florida Panthers coughed up a two-goal. second period lead on their way to a potentially devastating 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders in the first NHL playoff game ever held at the Barclays Center.
Thomas Hickey got away from Jaromir Jagr and one-timed a pretty centering feed from Brock Nelson past Roberto Luongo for the game-winner 12:31 into the extra session. Josh Bailey picked up the secondary helper on the deciding goal.
The Panthers got off to another fast with Reilly Smith collecting his league-leading fourth of the playoffs just 2:33 into the opening period. Smith shoveled the rebound of Alex Petrovic's shot from the point past a fallen Thomas Greiss. Rookie Mike Matheson was credited with secondary assist, giving him his first career postseason point.
Florida's lead stayed at one until Aleksander Barkov struck 1:11 into the second period for his first-ever playoff goal. After Jonathan Huberdeau got the puck Smith, the red-hot winger ripped a shot off the end boards that came out to Barkov and he put the juicy carom into the back of the net.
A few minutes later, it looked like the Panthers had scored again to put the Islanders away when Barkov set up Aaron Ekblad for a goal. new York coach Jack Capuano challenged the play and it turned out that Hubderdeau was just a bit offsides when he entered the zone, nullifying the score.
Penalties to Petrovic and Jussi Jokinen in short succession would give the Islanders a 5-on-3 advantage that would be quickly cashed in on. Ryan Pulock took a pass from Kyle Okposo and blasted the puck by Luongo at the 5:21 mark to pull the home team within one. John Tavares also drew an assist for his fifth point of the series.
Nick Bjugstad would restore Florida's two-goal lead a scant 2:20 later. The big center crashed the night to knock in the rebound of Smith initial shot that pulled Greiss out of position. Dmitry Kulikov registered his third assist of the series for starting the play off.
The Islanders would claw back into the game at 11:48 with Shane Prince converting Pulock's centering feed after the defensman collected the long rebound of Calvin de Haan's missed shot and drove towards the net before finding Prince open in the slot.
The deadly combination of Tavares and Okposo would combine again to set up Frans Nielsen, who whipped a backhander by Luongo's reaching glove, for the Islanders' second power-play marker of the frame to tie the game at 16:55.
Luongo and Griess would each stop seven shots in the third period to send the game to overtime. Jiri Hudler had a golden opportunity midway through the stanza after Johnny Boychuk's stick exploded, but the German netminder came up with a big save.
Greiss came up with a good stop on Hubderdeau about seven minutes into overtime to take care of the Panthers' best chance in the extra session.
The Cats have been ahead or tied for all but 13:59 of the series, yet find themselves down two games to one. They need to do a better of protecting the lead and staying out of the penalty box. After looking dangerous in the first period of Game One, the club's third line hasn't done much since. These things are all correctable, and the Panthers have two days off before Wednesday's huge tilt in Brooklyn to get things sorted out.
Flotsam & Jetsam
- Reilly Smith's three-point effort gave him an NHL-leading 8 playoff points (4G/4A). Smith also leads the league with a +7 rating. Wow...
- The goals by Islanders Thomas Hickey, Ryan Pulock and Shane Prince were the first of their NHL postseason careers.
- Jaromir Jagr only had one shot on goal and allowed Hickey to get away from him for the game-winner. Jagr's playoff goal-scoring drought is now at 34 games and the 44-year-old has yet to produce a point in the series.
- Brian Campbell finished the game with a -2 rating and is now a team-worst -5 in the series.
- Each team finished with 39 shots on goal, with Aleksander Barkov (9) and Jonathna Huberdeau (7) accounting for 16 of Florida's total.
- Greg McKegg made his NHL postseason debut, registering a shot on goal and one hit in 6:02 TOI.
- The fine folks at war-on-ice have the fancy stats stuff for you here.
- NHL.com has a highlight package for you to see with your own eyes.
- Lighthouse Hockey has the brighter side of last night's tough to swallow (for Panther fans) result.