Panthers end skid with wild 3-2 shootout win over Islanders
Cats get back to .500 with awesome display in the skills competition
Aleksander Barkov might have had his three-game scoring snapped, but the Florida Panthers pivot delivered the decisive blow in spectacular fashion to cap a perfect 5-for-5 performance by his club in the shootout as the Cats clawed their way to a 3-2 win over the visiting New York Islanders.
The Panthers revamped their lines for the game and the club's new top troika lit the lamp 8:38 into the opening period.
Brandon Pirri bagged his fourth of the season, from Jaromir Jagr and Erik Gudbranson, when his shot from the top of the right circle went off the stick of Mikhail Grabovski before flying past Jaroslav Halak.
Florida would add to its lead at 4:34 of the second stanza. Vincent Trocheck somehow was able to pass the puck out in front while falling down behind the net to an open Jussi Jokinen, who drove it home for his sixth goal.
Roberto Luongo gobbled up all 15 shots he faced over the first forty minutes, but the visitors would prove harder to handle in the final frame.
Ryan Strome, just back from AHL Bridgeport, halved the deficit when he beat Luongo with a quick shot from the face-off dot after taking a pass from Grabovski, who tracked down Marek Zidlicky's dump in.
The Islanders would tie the game up just 3:03 later. Frans Nielsen sent Josh Bailey in on goal with a cross-ice pass and he put the puck in off of Pirri's skate. Zidlicky collected the secondary helper for his second point of the night.
Luongo came up huge with 90 seconds left in regulation when he made a reflex glove save on Brock Nelson, who neatly redirected a centering pass from Kyle Okposo.
In overtime, the Cats were the aggressor, outshooting the Islanders by a 4-1 margin. Halak denied Connor Brickley on a breakaway attempt after the rookie stormed out of the penalty box after Florida killed off a too may men penalty.
The two clubs would set a new NHL record when the first nine shooters found the back of the net in the shootout.
Pirri, Trocheck, Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau and Barkov, who pulled off a slick deke and one-armed backhand stuff move for the winner, were the Panthers' scorers.
Nielsen, Okposo, John Tavares, and Bailey replied for the Islanders before Luongo came up with a pad stop on Nelson to give the Cats the big bonus point.
The win was the 408th of Luongo's career, snapping an eighth-place tie with goaltending legend Glenn Hall.
Florida finished off the five-game homestand on a high note and with a 2-2-1 record. The Panthers wrapped up an eight-game, in-state run at 4-3-1. The Cats will open a key five-game road trip in Detroit on Sunday afternoon.
Flotsam & Jetsam
- Jaromir Jagr left the game at the 8:39 mark of the third period and did not return. Brandon Pirri fell on Jagr's leg earlier in game. Hopefully it's nothing serious and the 43-year-old will resume his run down of one-time Red WIng Marcel Dionne tomorrow in the Motor City.
- Speaking off Pirri, the winger is now a perfect 3-for-3 in the shootout in 2015-16.
- The Cats did a good job on John Tavares, limiting him to just two shots on goal over the first sixty-five minutes. The Islanders star did score with a fine round three move to prolong the shootout.
- Recalled rookies Connor Brickley and Logan Shaw were inserted into the lineup over vets Dave Bolland and Shawn Thornton. Brickley finished the game with two shots and a hit. Shaw registered one shot, a block and dished out three hits.
- Speaking of hits, Derek MacKenzie had a game-high six of them and engaged in some third period rough stuff with Matt Martin.
- Roberto Luongo finished with 23 saves, while his counterpart Jaroslav Halak made 25 stops. It was only the third time Halak has lost to the Cats in his career.
- The Panthers raised their record in overtimes and shootouts to 2-4. Florida has now won eight of nine games when scoring first this season.
- Check out war-on-ice for the advanced stats breakdown of last night's homestand finale.
- Trust the Gorton's fisherman and sail over to Lighthouse Hockey for the other side of Florida's slump-busting win.
Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)