After giving up another second period lead, the Florida Panthers needed a hero in the third and found one in an unlikely source. Defenseman Alex Petrovic scored his first career postseason goal midway through the frame to snap a one-all tie, giving his club a tension-filled 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders.
The series is now tied at two games apiece with the teams heading back to Sunrise for Friday's night Game 5, which has finally been assigned an 8 pm start time, by the way.
After a scoreless first period that saw the Cats outshoot the Isles 10-5 and each team kill off a penalty, Florida got the game's first goal on a power-play at 15:18 of the second, thanks to the hard work of Jaromir Jagr, who collected his point of the postseason.
Aaron Ekblad's shot from the point was stopped by Thomas Greiss, but a determined Jagr dug the puck free from the goaltender and defenseman Travis Hamonic and then found Teddy Purcell waiting in the left circle. Purcell buried Jagr's slick backhand pass for his second of the series.
The goal came 4:33 after a breakaway goal by Jonathan Huberdeau, that was also set up Jagr, was disallowed. It was ruled Hubderdeau pushed Greiss and the puck into the net after the keeper made the initial save.
The Panthers continued their penchant for late period meltdowns with the lead by taking two penalties in quick succession.
Aleksander Barkov took an ill-advised slashing call in the offensive zone with 2:17 left to go to put New York on the power-play. The Panthers were close to completing the kill when Dmitry Kulikov was sent to the box for tripping Kyle Okposo.
John Tavares tied the game at the 19:44 mark, a mere second after the 5-on-3 advantage expired, with his third of the playoffs. Tavares moved into a huge space in front and went top-shelf on Roberto Luongo after playing catch with Ryan Pulock. Brock Nelson picked up the secondary assist on the play.
Petrovic's game-winner came 9:25 into the final frame, off a nice feed from the boards by Derek MacKenzie. After taking the pass, Petrovic hung on to the puck for an extra second to allow Alan Quine to move out of his way, before he sent a low wrist shot by Greiss.
Luongo would make solid stops on Nick Leddy and Ryan Strome to close the door on another potential Islanders comeback bid.
Flotsam & Jetsam
- Jaromir Jagr's second period assist was the 200th point of his postseason career. He is only the fifth player in NHL history to reach that mark. The others: Wayne Gretzky (382), Mark Messier (295), Jari Kurri (233) and Glenn Anderson (214).
- In addition to having his goal denied, it looked like Jonathan Huberdeau was seriously injured on his ill-fated breakaway attempt. The crafty winger returned to finish with a game-high seven shots on goal.
- Roberto Luongo delivered a strong start for the Cats, turning aside 26 of the 27 shots he faced. There was a dicey moment early in third when the veteran goalie looked a little unsure as to what happened to Kyle Okposo sharp-angle shot from the corner.
- Lu's counterpart, Thomas Greiss again kept his team in a game where it was largely outplayed 5-on-5. Greiss finished with 27 stops, many of them high-quality. This might of been Greiss' best performance of a well-played series.
- Garrett Wilson drew the second assist on Alex Petrovic's winner. It was the fist point of his postseason career and came after he failed to score in 29 regular season games.
- The gang at war-on-ice has all the fancy stats stuff for you right here.
- NHL.com has a highlight package for you to see with your own eyes.
- Dominik and the crew at Lighthouse Hockey will illuminate you on the other side of Game 4 if you stop by.