The Florida Panthers move into a third place tie with Ottawa (The Senators have four games in hand) and crept withing two points of Philadelphia for the second wild card with a gritty 2-1 win over the New York Islanders in Brooklyn.
Keith Yandle opened the scoring with his third goal of the season 5:47 into the first period. The defenseman spanked the rebound of Jared McCann’s shot high into the net after Thomas Greiss made a pad save on the second-year pro’s backhander. All-Star Vincent Trocheck registered the secondary assist, giving him points in three of the last four games.
The Islanders evened things up five minutes later, courtesy of a Nick Leddy goal. Leddy collected a loose puck at the point after Reilly Smith just failed to completely break up Casey Cizikas’ pass and snapped it through traffic. Cal Clutterbuck picked up the second assist on the play.
Florida would regain the lead 1:09 into the middle frame when Jason Demers lit the lamp. After a Jussi Jokinen faceoff win, Jonathan Marchessault fed Demers with a nice crossing pass and the vet’s hard wrister from the right circle deflected in off an Islander.
The Cats ended up peppering Greiss with sixteen shots during the frame, but couldn’t add to the lead. New York turned the tables in the out-shooting the Cats by a 12- margin.
Roberto Luongo was solid, stopping 29 of 30 shots he faced. One of Luongo’s better saves came midway through the final stanza when he denied Josh Bailey with a shoulder saves.
The two teams will meet again Friday night in Sunrise and the Panthers will Columbus to the BB&T Center the next night. Florida has now won four straight on the road. They will need to bring their simplified road game home with them to pick up more points this weekend.
Fish Sticks & Tatar Sauce
- Jason Demers’ game-winning goal was his eight of the season, establishing a new career-high from the 28-year-old from Dorval, Quebec.
- Florida raised its record to 13-1-3 when leading after two periods.
- On the flip side, the Isles fell to 0-10-1 when trailing after forty minutes.
- Thomas Greiss finished the game with 22 stops. It was the first time Greiss has faced the Panthers since helping eliminate them with a fine playoff performance.
- In addition to posting his 13th win and lowering his GAA to 2.34, Roberto Luongo collected his first penalty of the year, a roughing minor for mixing it up with Casey Cizikas.
- If you trust the Gorton’s Fisherman, navigate your way over to Lighthouse Hockey for more on the front end of the home and home, homies.
Trocheck on ASG nod