If the Florida Panthers are going to make the playoffs, they are going to need to go on a serious second half run. The Cats took a step towards that goal Tuesday night with an impressive 4-1 road win over the New York Islanders at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Mike Matheson opened the scoring 8:57 into the tilt with his fifth of the season. After a Colton Scevior faceoff win, Mark Pysyk slid the puck across to partner Matheson, who one-timed it home from the blue line.
The score remained the same until 14:40 of the second period when Evgenii Dadonov forced a turnover, collected the puck in the neutral zone, circled the net and scored on a wraparound after Jaroslav Halak was slowed by a bit of traffic in front of his crease. Dadonov has registered nine points (4G/5A) in his past nine games.
Keith Yandle gave the Panthers a three-goal lead 4:14 into the final frame when he took a pass from Vincent Trocheck, who dug a rebound out of the corner, and blasted a mighty slap shot by Halak from the blue line.
The Islanders responded quickly, finally denting Panthers third-stringer Harri Sateri 55 seconds later with the goal going to Adam Pelech. Pelech cruised in from the point after receiving a pass from Josh Bailey and snapped a wrister past Sateri. Veteran Jason Chimera drew the secondary assist on Pelech’s second of the year.
New York kept peppering Sateri, who made 15 of his 32 saves in the third, but the 28-year-old Finn was up to the task, backstopping Florida to its 20th win of the campaign and his first-ever in the NHL.
Jonathan Huberdeau completed the scoring with an empty-netter with 1:11 remaining in regulation. Trocheck drew the lone assist on the goal by knocking the puck away from Sebastian Aho at the blue line to spring Huberdeau for the dagger.
The Panthers played a strong road game to snap its three-game losing streak and pull within ten points of the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, currently held by the Philadelphia Flyers. Florida closes this brief, two-game trip with another winnable tilt against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.
Full Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)
Flotsam & Jetsam
- Harri Sateri posted his first NHL win in his fifth appearance in the league. Sateri returned to North America with 52 wins in the KHL.
- Speaking of the KHL, Evgenii Dadonov departed for that league with 10 NHL goals in 55 career games. His second period tally gave him 11 in 40 games since rejoining the Panthers.
- Jaroslav Halak had a busy night finishing with 36 saves. Halak saw his record drop to 15-15-3 with the loss.
- Aaron Ekblad led all skaters with seven shots on goal and finished with a +2 rating in one of best games of the year.
- In addition to scoring the only goal for the Islanders, Adam Pelech played in his 100th NHL game.
- Jonathan Huberdeau’s 17th goal allowed him to keep his point a game pace up. Huberdeau leads the club in scoring with 48 points.
- There was just one penalty during the game, a tripping minor against Florida defenseman MacKenzie Weegar at 7:47 of the third period
- Lighthouse Hockey will be a little dim after the Cats won game two of the season-series, so do stop by and get their take on the tilt.