While the Florida Panthers dropped a 5-4 shootout decision to the New York Islanders last night at the BB&T Center, the most important loss is that of goaltender Roberto Luongo, who was helped off the ice with a painfully obvious lower-body injury after making a kick save 2:31 into the second period. By the looks of things, things,I wouldn’t expect Luongo back anytime soon.
Keith Yandle got the Panthers on the board first, pouncing on a turnover with a quick wrist shot that went off Nick Bjugstad and by an unprepared Jaroslav Halak 10:25 into the first period. Even though he didn’t get an assist, Jonathan Huberdeau forced the poor pass that led to the goal.
Anders Lee countered 2:26 later on a delayed penalty when Calvin de Haan’s shot missed the net and came right to him in the slot. Lee moved away from Huberdeau and easily beat Luongo for his sixteenth of the campaign. Adam Pelech drew the secondary assist on the play.
It didn’t take the Islanders long to get to James Reimer. Thomas Hickey’s centering pass went in off of Ian McCoshen’s stick 3:14 after Luongo departed to give the visitors a 2-1 lead. Josh Ho-Sang collected the lone assist on Hickey’s first of the season.
The Panthers took advantage of a 5-on-3 situation to knot the score at the 8:45 mark. Aaron Ekblad wristed the puck past Halak from the left circle after taking a crossing pass from Yandle. The second assist on the power-play marker went to Vincent Trocheck.
Yandle and Trocheck combined to set up another power-play goal 1:49 after Ekblad’s tally. This time, Aleksander Barkov whipped in a little backhand dish from Yandle from just above the right circle to give Florida the lead back.
A speeding Brock Nelson got ahead of Michael Matheson to take a nifty little pass from Ho-Sang to even the game at three with 3:41 left in the stanza. The secondary assist on the goal went to veteran Jason Chimera.
The Islanders would get another 2:02 later when John Tavares picked up a loose puck in the slot and spun around to send a low shot through Reimer’s legs. Josh Bailey and Nick Leddy were credited with the assists on Tavares’ team-leading seventeenth goal.
Denis Malgin scored the only goal of the final frame, 5:06 in, to even things up again. Jamie McGinn knocked down de Haan in the corner, allowing Trocheck to feed Malgin, who one-timed the pass from in close for his second goal.
After overtime failed to produce a winner, the game went to the shootout where Reimer stopped Jordan Eberle and Tavares, while Trocheck and Barkov let Halak off the hook by missing the net.
Rookie Matthew Barzal made no mistake to open the third round. Barzal roofed a pretty backhand on his first career attempt. Halak, who finished with 39 stops, made a pad save on Huberdeau to make it stand up, giving the Islanders the bonus point.
The Panthers have now lost three in a row, with each defeat coming by a goal and the last two in overtime and in the shootout. Good teams find a way win. Bad teams... well, you know how the rest of that goes. With Luongo out again, Florida will have to rally behind James Reimer, starting with Thursday night’s game against the Central Dvision-leading Winnipeg Jets.
Full Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)
Flotsam & Jetsam
- Anders Lee first period goal was the 100th of his NHL career. The 27-year-old Lee’s milestone goal came in his 287th big-league game.
- Although they lost the game, the Panthers won the special teams battle, going 2 for 4 on the power play and killing off both of New York’s attempts with the man-advantage.
- The Islanders are 8-2 in their last games and now sit a point behind Columbus for first place in the Metropolitan Division with a game in hand.
- Roberto Luongo stopped 12 of 13 shots before he was helped off the ice. James Reimer had a rougher go of it, surrendering three goals on 19 shots.
- Vincent Trocheck’s three-assist performance gave him 27 points (in 27 games), tops on the team.
- The Panthers fell to 2-4 this season when going past the sixty minute mark.
- Lighthouse Hockey has the other side of an exciting first meeting between the Cats and Isles.