The Panthers were only able to muster a total of four goals in two regulation losses and one shootout defeat to the Islanders.
A tripping penalty on Frank Vatrano with 18 seconds left in the first period set the stage for New York first power-play goal 49 seconds into middle frame. After playing catch with Jordan Eberle, Devon Toews snapped a long shot through the legs of Anders Lee, who was screening Sergei Bobrovsky, to open the scoring. Lee picked up the secondary assist on Toews’ third of the season.
The Islanders converted another man-advantage, this time with Vincent Trocheck off for holding, 3:51 later. A terrible turnover by MacKenzie Weegar was quickly cashed in as a series of passes culminated in Mathew Barzal pounding the puck into an empty net, with the helpers going to Eberle and Josh Bailey.
Florida would solve nemesis Thomas Greiss at the 9:36 mark when Brett Connolly chipped the puck out of his own zone leading to a 2-on-1 break. Mark Pysyk carried in and fed across to Mike Hoffman and he fired home from the left circle to cut the deficit in half.
That would be it for the Cats, as Greiss would stop all 13 shots he faced in third period, including a big lunging save on Connolly with four minutes to go in regulation.
Lee would put the icing on the cake with an unassisted empty-net goal with three ticks left on the clock.
For the second straight game, the Panthers wasted a quality start from Bobrovsky, who finished the game with 27 saves after stopping 46 of 48 on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, who jumped the Cats in the standings with a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins.
Greiss, who stopped 37 shots in a 2-1 win over Florida on November 9, turned aside 32 of 33 last night to raise his record to 11-4.
Head coach Joel Quenneville was not a very happy man in his postgame presser. After the last two games where the Cats were pinned into their own zone for long stretches, he insinuated the players aren’t working hard enough, and its shown on the ice. With the Boston Bruins coming to town on Saturday, the Panthers need to find their highest gear quick, and hopefully break off the shifter knob so they stay in that gear for the remainder of the season.
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Flotsam and Jetsam
- The Islanders swept the Panthers for the first time since the 2012-13 season. The Cats did manage to pick up a point in a 3-2 shootout loss in October. Good riddance.
- Aleksander Barkov, Mike Hoffman and Keith Yandle paced the Panthers with four shots on goal apiece. Barkov was held off the score sheet for a second game in a row, only the third time that’s happened this season.
- Mathew Barzal notched the GWG and has put up points (4G/3A) in six of his last seven games, Barzal set up the game-winner in the November 9th win over the Cats.
- Denis Malgin returned to the lineup after being replaced by Aleksi Saarela for three games and produced just one shot on goal in 11:36 TOI.
- Jonathan Huberdeau was also held to a single shot and saw his four-game point streak come to an end.
- Sail away to Lighthouse Hockey for more on the Islanders fourth straight win over the Cats.