The New York Islanders ended their three-game road trip on a winning note, beating the Florida Panthers 3-1 on Thursday night at BB&T Center.
Devon Toews and Mathew Barzal scored power-play goals in the second period, while Thomas Greiss made 32 saves in the win. The victory was the Isles second straight and resulted in a winning road trip, as the Isles went 2-1-0 on their three-game swing. Pulling back a little further, Thursday's win completes a stretch of 10-of-13 on the road for the Islanders, who went 5-4-1 over that span.
"We're looking forward to getting home," said Anders Lee, who capped a Gordie Howe hat trick with an empty-netter late in the third period. "We did a pretty good job of taking care of business when we needed to and turning this trip around and having a good response after a big trip out west."
With the win, the Isles also sweep their season series with the Panthers 3-0-0.
ISLES POT PAIR OF POWER-PLAY GOALS:
After a special teams loss on Saturday in Dallas, the Islanders' special teams have thrived in the two games since.
On Monday, the Isles went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill - wish a shorthanded goal - against the Tampa Bay Lightning. On Thursday, the Isles got a pair of power-play goals against a Panthers team that had only allowed two total power-play goals in their last 12 games.
"That was one of the things we didn't like in Dallas was our penalty kill and we've worked on some things and fixed some things," Toews said. "The last two [games] we've been fantastic. It's a big momentum swing when you can kill a penalty and on the other side of the puck, power play wise we've been moving it really well and feeling really good. It's just about getting the opportunities. To get two tonight is huge for us."
Video: NYI@FLA: Toews snaps home power-play goal
Both power-play goals came early in the second period, first with a Toews' seeing-eye wrister that deflected off Noel Acciari's glove and in 49 seconds into the frame to make it 1-0. The goal was Toews' first since Oct. 14.
The Isles followed it up with another goal on the man advantage 3:51 later. Anders Lee intercepted a Panthers clearing attempt, which led to a quick tic-tac-toe play, with Jordan Eberle feeding a wide-open Barzal for an easy one-timer. The goal was Barzal's team-leading 13th of the season.
The Isles power play finished the game 2-for-4 on the evening, but also got a big effort from their penalty kill, which went 3-for-3 against a potent Panthers power play, including a big kill midway through the third period.
Video: NYI@FLA: Barzal scores PPG off feed from Eberle
LEE RECORDS GORDIE HOWE HAT TRICK:
Anders Lee recorded his first-career Gordie Howe hat trick on Thursday night. The Islanders captain picked up a secondary assist on Toews' power-play goal, dropped the gloves with Brian Boyle in the second period and iced the game with an empty-netter with three seconds to play.
The Islanders' captain also got some credit from his teammates for stepping up to fight Boyle after the Panthers' forward caught Adam Pelech with a high hit in the neutral zone. Boyle's hit broke Pelech's stick, which clipped the Isles defensemen in the face and sent him to the room for repairs. Seeing his teammate down, Lee did not hesitate to step up, though the fight earned him 17 penalty minutes with an instigator and a 10-minute misconduct.
"There's a reason why he's the captain," Eberle said. "He's a good character guy. He sticks up for his teammates. In that situation, it was good to see him get the empty-netter, he deserved it after spending so much time in the box. He's a standup guy and a leader everywhere he's gone."
Video: NYI@FLA: Greiss robs Connolly to preserve lead
GREISS SOLID IN NET:
Thomas Greiss had the Panthers' number this season.
Of the Isles' three wins over the Cats, Greiss had two of them, allowing two goals total over that span (69 saves on 71 shots). On Thursday, the Isles' goalie stopped 32-of-33.
Greiss' best save came late in the game, as the Isles goalie lunged across his net to rob Brett Connolly - the Panthers' leading goal scorer - with an outstretched right pad. The win also snapped Greiss' personal two-game losing streak.
The Islanders return home from their three-game road trip to take on the Buffalo Sabres on Star Wars Day this Saturday afternoon at Nassau Coliseum. Puck drop is 1 p.m.