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Panthers 4, Islanders 2

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
For the second straight game, the Islanders had difficulty generating offense and lost 4-2 to the Florida Panthers at the Bank Atlantic Center on Saturday night. On the first road trip of the young 2011-12 season, the Islanders are 0-2. They drop to 3-3-0 on the season.

“We have to get better on the road getting our feet going and using our transition game, getting in on the forecheck,” Islanders forward John Tavares said. “We had some good first chance opportunities, we just weren’t getting those second chances… It was tough for us to get our game going. We only had six shots halfway through the game and that’s not good enough to win on the road.”

Stephen Weiss faces off against John Tavares at the BankAtlantic Center on October 22, 2011. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
In the first 40 minutes, the Islanders combined for 10 shots on goal, and were outshot by 14. The Islanders had the opportunity to turn the game around in the third period, but Panthers goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who replaced Jose Theodore in net to start the third, made 18 saves to seal the win.

"When desperate times called for it, we were pretty good,” Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “It was frustrating that we didn’t play for 60 minutes… The third period we had some chances, but too little too late.”

With 2:30 left in the third, the Islanders earned a 5-on-3 advantage when Kris Versteeg (hooking) and Shawn Mattias (slashing) were sent to the box. But the Panthers penalty kill shut down the swarming Islanders power play that had generated two goals already. The Islanders pulled Evgeni Nabokov for the extra skater, but when Mattias left the box he was racing, and was able to capitalize on an Islander turnover to put the puck in the empty net to provide the final margin with 25 seconds left.

“We had a chance there and had a few other chances, but it’s not an excuse," Tavares said. "Guys were getting a good amount of shots and puck was getting close on some of them, we just couldn’t get them over (Markstrom). Our power play was moving well all night, it was just disappointing.”

Capuano said, “They came hard. I thought we were puck staring a little bit. We didn’t have the urgency and intensity that we needed. The third period, we had 18 shots, but that’s the way we have to play. That was us, and for whatever reason, we didn’t come out of the gate.”

The Islanders were off to a fast start in the first, and Mark Streit’s power play goal put the Islanders on the board just 1:01 after the opening faceoff, giving the Islanders a 1-0 lead. Tomas Kopecky received a penalty shot 1:38 later, but Evgeni Nabokov made the save. Before the end of the period (14:39), Kris Versteeg evened the score.

Andrew MacDonald drew a tripping penalty on Jack Skille at 14:27 of the second period that would have Tavares convert just five seconds later to even the score at two. Tavares won the faceoff and passed back to Streit. With Moulson and Parenteau creating traffic around the net, Streit faked a shot and passed through traffic toward the crease as Tavares redirected for the goal.

When desperate times called for it, we were pretty good. It was frustrating that we didn’t play for 60 minutes… The third period we had some chances, but too little too late. - Jack Capuano
Matt Bradley gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead as he converted at 13:39 of the second. Battling for the puck along the boards, Bradley fed the puck down to Mattias, before passing it through the crease and Bradley skated in for the backhander. Tim Kennedy gave the Panthers a 3-2 lead as he converted at 4:00 of the third.

The highlights of the night for the Islanders were the power play and Nabokov who made 29 saves.

“I think Nabokov played great for us,” Capuano said. “He weathered the storm in the first period and gave us a chance to win.”

The Islanders leave Florida with zero of a possible four points.

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