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Cold spell continues as Panthers get dropped 3-2 by Islanders

Mar 28, 2024; Sunrise, Florida, USA; New York Islanders center Jean-Gabriel Pageau (44) scores against Florida Panthers goaltender Anthony Stolarz (41) during the second period at Amerant Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers inability to hold a lead bit them in the hindquarters again in a disappointing 3-2 defeat to Seymon Varlamov and the New York Islanders at Amerant Bank Arena.

Despite the loss. the Cats clinched a spot in the postseason for the fifth straight season.

Shortly after a Ryan Pulock goal was wiped from the board due to goaltender interference, Vladimir Tarasenko opened the scoring 8:13 into the first period. Tarasenko took a pass from Aleksander Barkov behind the net after Dmitry Kulikov dumped in and tried to return the puck to the captain. The Cats got a break when the puck went in off the stick of J.G. Pageau, giving Tarasenko his 21st of the season.

The Islanders shook off the opening salvo and evened the score when Pulock scored one that counted at the 13:20 mark. Casey Cizikas sent the puck in deep and Pageau tracked it down, absorbing contact from a pair of Panthers while backhanding it back out to Pulock, who was left all alone on the right side. Pulock measured up Anthony Stolarz and beat him with a shot off the far-side post.

Barkov would collect his second point of the night and the 700th of his NHL career when he swatted in Sam Reinhart’s hard cross on the door step after Niko Mikkola turned the play the other way to give the Panthers the lead back 6:32 into the second.

New York would dominate the remainder of the frame and tie and then take the lead with two goals in a 1:59 span.

Mathew Barzal netted the equalizer at 8:43, setting a new career high in goals with his 23rd of the season by tipping a Noah Dobson shot from the right boards past Stolarz. Cizikas fed back to Dobson for his second helper of the game.

The Islanders would forge ahead when Pierre Engvall dropped to Adam Pelech at the left point and his shot was redirected on goal by Pageau. Stolarz made the initial save and after Cizikas missed the rebound, tripping Sam Bennett in the process, Pageau was able to whip the loose puck home along the ice.

Florida would throw the kitchen sink at Varlamov in the third, outshooting the Islanders 14-5, but the veteran keeper was up to the task, sending the frustrated Cats to a fourth straight loss on home ice.

The Panthers played good in spurts, but a strong sixty-minute effort remains elusive. Seriously weak moments on defense and a lack of offensive finish are killing the Cats right now. They’ll try to somewhat salvage the homestand when they host the reeling Detroit Red Wings on Saturday afternoon.

Flotsam & Jetsam

  • Second star Aleksander Barkov became the first Panther and sixth Finnish player in NHL history to reach 700 points, joining Teemu Selanne (1,457), Jari Kurri (1,398), Saku Koivu (832), Olli Jokinen (750) and Mikko Koivu (711).
  • In addition to setting up Barkov’s milestone marker, Sam Reinhart finished with a game-high five shots on goal.
  • After losing six in a row, the Islanders have won two of three, and pulled within four points of the Washington Capitals for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
  • Seymon Varlamov stopped 26 shots to collect his ninth win of the season. Anthony Stolarz made 21 saves and took just his sixth loss.
  • Aaron Ekblad rejoined the lineup after a seven-game absence with a lower-body injury. Ekblad logged 22:13 of ice time and was credited with one shot, two blocks and a hit.