Bennett scored from in-close off a rebound of Radkos Gudas’ shot in the first period.
He took a pretty pass from Jonathan Huberdeau and bagged an even prettier wraparound goal in the second.
And to cap things off, the former Flame gave Matt Kiersted his first career point by backing off the defense and rifling a shot by Ilya Sorokin to restore Florida’s three-goal lead in the third.
The Panthers also got a beautiful breakaway take and finish from Anthony Duclair with 1:03 left in the second. Duclair was sprung by long-range aerial pass by defenseman MacKenzie Weegar. Wowzers!
Aleksander Barkov notched his first of the season with a flourish, going backhand-to-forehand with 7:38 left in regulation, with the assists going to Carter Verhaeghe and Gustav Forsling, to cpmplete the scoring. Forsling also drew a helper on Bennett’s opening salvo.
Sergei Bobrovsky followed up his fine performance against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a hihg-quality effort, stopping 29 of 30 shots faced. The only goal Bobrovsky gave up was to Oliver Wahlstrom, who converted from short distance after the puck came out in front after a battle for it below the goal line. The tally came ten second after Gudas took a delay of the game penalty.
The Panthers looked like a much more cohesive unit than they did on Thursday, using their speed to create quailty scoring chances and to swarm the Islanders in the neutral and defensive zones. Barry Trotz’ club has given the Cats a lot of trouble lately, but that wasn’t the case in the first meeting between the two teams since the Isles sent the Panthers packing from the Toronto bubble. Florida is now 2-0 and will hit the road for the first time this season when they pay the Tampa Bay Lightning a visit on Tuesday.
Flotsam & Jetsam
- Sam Bennett has 18 points (9G/9A) in 12 regular-season games since he was acquired in a trade with the Calgary Flames on April 12. The hat trick was the second of his career. The first came in a 4-goal effort against the Panthers on January 13, 2016,
- Jonathan Huberdeau’s primary assist on Bennett’s first marker was the 28-year-old’s 500th career NHL point. Congratulations on the milestone!
- Aaron Ekblad was shaken up late in the first period but returned in the second and combined with Huberdeau on Bennett’s second goal.
- Ilya Sorokin made 24 saves for the Islanders, who have been outscored 11-4 this season and failed to get a point out of their first two games for only the second time in the last 15 years.
- In addition to their assists, Radko Gudas and MacKenzie Weegar each had a game-high six hits. Weegar also led all skaters with 24 minutes of ice time.
- It was a tough night for Zdeno Chara in his second game back for his original team. Big Z went an ugly minus-4 for the Islanders.
- Lighthouse Hockey has got you covered for the other side of Florida’s second win of the young season.