The New York Islanders found a way to dispatch the Florida Panthers by a 2-1 final score in Game 5 at the BB&T Center. The two-overtime affair was the longest for the Panthers since their final game of the Stanley Cup Finals waaaaay back in 1996, when the Colorado Avalanche earned a 1-0 win in three overtimes.
The Islanders didn't take a real long time to draw a man-advantage. At the 2:53 mark, Nick Bjugstad was whistled for a high-sticking penalty on Kyle Okposo, but New York failed to capitalize on it.
The game remained locked at goose eggs until the 13:31 mark, when Frans Nielsen jammed a rebound past Roberto Luongo for a 1-0 Islanders lead. Nielsen had collected the loose puck after Thomas Hickey had put the shot on the netminder.
Three minutes later, a Jonathan Huberdeau penalty led nowhere for the Isles, who couldn't extend their one-goal lead.
A Too Many Men penalty on Panthers at the 16:31 mark of the second period gave the Islanders a third chance to put the Cats down by two, but luckily for Florida, John Tavares slashed Jussi Jokinen less than a minute later to make it four-on-four. The Panthers, like their New York nemesis, couldn't make anything happen with the extra man.
Aleksander Barkov scored his second goal of the postseason on a delicious looking Alex Petrovic pass from the point just 1:59 in to the final period of regulation. Barkov slammed home the biscuit on a textbook one-timer past a helpless Thomas Greiss to knot the game at one goal apiece. Jaromir Jagr earned the secondary assist on the play, which electrified the sold out home crowd and gave the Panthers a second wind. Unfortunately for either team, no more goals were had in regulation.
7:19 into the first overtime period, Calvin de Haan caught the puck, then, while pivoting to throw it away from his own net, skated with both feet into the goal crease. The officials whistled him for "covering puck in crease," and awarded Aleksander Barkov a penalty shot. Greiss didn't bit on Barkov's fake, easily turning aside the last moment backhand to preserve the tie, which would continue into a...
Early in the second overtime, Bjugstad seemed to lose an edge, and went head-first into the seam between the boards and the glass deep in the Panthers' zone. Bjugs lay flat on the ice for a few minutes as he was tended to by the Florida staff, and was escorted off a moment later with blood all down the left side of his face. Big Nick had previously missed several weeks of the regular season with a concussion and migraine headaches, so we should all wish him a full and speedy recovery.
Jagr tripped John Tavares with 5:06 gone in the fifth period, but nothing bad happened to the Panthers. That came later, when the New York power play took advantage of a Derek MacKenzie slashing penalty, also on Tavares. The game-winner, scored on a one-time blast by Alan Quine with four minutes left until we would have had a fifth intermission, was assisted by Marek Zidlicky and Thomas Hickey.
Incense and Peppermints
- Griess was a far more impressive goaltender than was Luongo. While Bobby Lou made 40 saves altogether, most of the action was in the Islanders defensive zone as the Panthers for the most part controlled play. Greiss made 47 saves for the win, and a lot of them did not look of the "easy" variety.
- Barkov's penalty shot was just the third in postseason history, and would have been the first to be successful if Sasha had buried it.
- The first star was Greiss, second was Luongo, and third was Quine.
- Florida not only outshot New York by a 48-to-42 mark, they attempted 96 shots to just 68 for the Islanders.
- New York registered 65 hits on the Panthers, who only had 34. Vincent Trocheck led the Cats with seven, a number equalled or surpassed by four Islanders.
Game Six is set for 7 PM Sunday night in Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, and the Panthers need a win to get another shot at the Isles back in Sunrise. The Tampa Bay Lightning await whoever wins, and the Hockey Gods should be angling for an all-Florida series, but we will have to see about that.