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Islanders fall to Panthers

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders
The New York Islanders dropped the second half of back-to-back games Sunday as they fell 4-1 to the Florida Panthers at Nassau Coliseum.

The Islanders could not carry over the momentum from Saturday’s emotional 2-1 overtime win against Los Angeles. After taking an early lead, the Panthers came back with four unanswered goals.

John Tavares races to win puck on Feb. 12, 2012
“These games are so important at this time of the year,” John Tavares said. “There’s no excuse for us not to be ready to play or have our feet moving or having our game going off the bat.”

Florida’s top-line of Kris Versteeg, Tomas Fleischmann and Stephen Weiss were potent on Sunday afternoon, accounting for two of the teams four goals and a total of five points. Fleischmann scored the go-ahead game-winner and his 200th career point at 4:17 of the second period, a tic-tac-toe play in which all three touched the puck. Versteeg added a power play marker at 11:41 and Jack Skille scored off of a face-off to make it 4-1 at 18:33 of the second period.

“You give up two face-off goals and a power play goal and you’re not going to win many games,” Jack Capuano said. 

Frans Nielsen opened the scoring, netting the Islanders first shot of the game. Nielsen took a page out of Mark Streit’s playbook, splitting the Florida D before going high glove side on Jose Theodore.

“We got the opening goal we wanted,” Tavares said. “But then we weren’t playing our game there for a period and a half.”

The Panthers answered back before the end of the period, as Tyson Strachan scored his first goal of the season, a point-shot through traffic beating Evgeni Nabokov.

The Islanders goaltender had allowed five goals in his previous four starts, but surrendered four goals on 15 shots. It was hard to fault Nabokov on the second and third Panthers goals, but Al Montoya found himself in net for the start of the third period.

“It’s definitely not Nabby’s fault tonight,” Matt Martin said. “We didn’t play well enough in front of him.”

Theodore rebounded after surrendering his first shot, finishing the game with 26 saves and stuffing the Isles early third period charge. The Panthers are now 3-0 against the Islanders this season.

After wrapping up a three-game home stand, the Islanders go on the road for their next two games. The team travels to Winnipeg to play the Jets on Tuesday before a date with the Blues in St. Louis on Thursday. Tuesday’s puck drop at the MTS Centre goes at 8:30 p.m.
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