The New York Islanders dominated the first period but failed to take advantage while the Florida Panthers put home their limited scoring chances in a 5-1 win over the Isles at Barclays Center. Roberto Luongo made 33 saves for Florida while Aleksander Barkov led the Panthers attack with a goal and two assists. Brock Nelson scored the only goal for the Islanders.
The Islanders outshot the Panthers 34-16 for the game but gave up too many quality chances and didn’t get enough bodies in front of Luongo to generate second and third opportunities.
Early on, the Islanders dominated play. The home team outshot Florida 19-2 in the first period, but because of the fast glove of Luongo, the game remained scoreless. The Islanders passed the puck well in the opening stanza and created chances off their forecheck. But each time they got a shot on net, Luongo was there.
“Sometimes when you dominate a period or a segment of a game and you don’t get anything out of it, a team can go into the second period and regroup,” explained Isles forward Matt Martin. “It was still 0-0 regardless of what the shots were…They came out early and got a couple and we were chasing the game from there.”
The Panthers struck early in the second period when Reilly Smith was left uncovered in the right circle and beat Jaroslav Halak for his 9th goal of the season. Barkov scored an unassisted goal at 7:25 of the second period and the Islanders trailed 2-0.
The turning point of the game came shortly after Nelson scored the only Isles goal at 12:37. Aaron Ekblad answered just 20 seconds later on a soft goal Halak probably wanted back and the momentum the Islanders had established by scoring was quickly gone.
Halak has played well for the Islanders throughout the season but was not at the top of his game tonight.
“He battled,” Isles coach Jack Capuano said of Halak. “He would probably like to have one or two of those back but that’s how it goes.”
Third period goals by Vincent Trobcheck and Jonathan Huberdeau (shorthanded/empty net) clinched the win for Florida. The Isles managed only six shots on goal in the third period despite being down by two goals after 40 minutes.
“We didn’t capitalize on our chances and we gave up some good ones to them,” Isles captain John Tavares admitted. “We got behind the eight-ball and didn’t generate much from the middle of the ice the rest of the game.”
The loss ended the Islanders streak of 10 consecutive games with at least a point, their longest such streak of the season (8-0-2).
Despite the loss, the Islanders refused to panic. “I think this is as good a roll as we’ve been on in a long time,” said defenseman Travis Hamonic. “There’s no reason to freak out or worry…We’ve played some really good hockey as of late and tonight certainly wasn’t how we drew it up, but we move forward.”
The Islanders return to action Thursday night when they travel to Colorado to take on the Avalanche. It’s the start of a two-game road trip for the Isles.
The Islanders killed all three Florida power play attempts and have now successfully killed 24 consecutive power plays over the past 10 games.
Jaromir Jagr missed the game with the flu.
Ryan Strome returned to the Islanders lineup and had one shot on goal in 16:24 of ice time.