A pair of late goals undid a solid effort by the New York Islanders on Saturday night, as they fell 3-2 in overtime to the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center.
The Islanders were 13.6 seconds away from a gritty 2-1 win over the Panthers, but Jonathan Marchessault snuck a wrister through an otherwise-solid Jaroslav Halak (40 saves) sending the game to overtime. In OT, the Islanders were 45.8 seconds away from a shootout, but Denis Malgin ended the game by deflecting a Vincent Trochek shot past Halak.
"The momentum changed obviously with 15 seconds to go in the [third]," head coach Jack Capuano said. "Ten, 15 seconds left one squeaks through there, we just have to find a way."
It was a frustrating loss on several levels for the Islanders, who felt they were in the driver's seat for much of Saturday's contest. They built a 2-0 lead through the first two periods and Halak was having a solid night, making 37 saves before the tying goal. Even in overtime, the Islanders lost the game on a bad bounce, as Trochek's shot deflected off a defenseman's shinpads right to Malgin at the side of the net.
"We played a pretty good road game, battled hard all game and have the lead. To give it up and lose it, it's not what you want," said Brock Nelson. "We had the lead and just lost it."
Nelson opened the scoring for the Islanders with 22 seconds to play in the first period, as Calvin de Haan's shot kicked off the end boards right to Nelson, who corralled and potted the puck into the empty side of the net.
Video: NYI@FLA: Nelson finishes favorable bounce
The Islanders took a 2-0 lead in the second period, but that 20 minutes will be remembered moreso for a pair of goal challenges, both of which went the Islanders' way.
Nick Leddy gave the Islanders the two-goal lead, but Florida challenged the goal, arguing that Nelson interfered with Roberto Luongo (19 saves). With Nelson crashing the crease, Leddy's point shot flipped up and over Luongo before falling across the goal line. The officials debated the goal for seven minutes, but it ultimately counted, which put the Islanders up 2-0 at 9:54.
Then another convoluted sequence led the second challenge about five minutes later. Aaron Ekblad's point shot deflected off Leddy and past Halak, but a bump by Jaromir Jagr on Halak caused the referees to immediately wave it off. The officials overturned the call on the ice - calling it a good goal - but Jack Capuano successfully challenged that call, causing the refs to revert back to their original decision.
Video: NYI@FLA: Leddy's slap shot finds the net for PPG
The Islanders nearly scored twice in the final minute of the second period, as Josh Bailey stripped Reilly Smith for a shorthanded breakaway, but was denied by an outstretched Luongo. Andrew Ladd created a chance on the next sequence, fishing the puck out and feeding Nikolay Kulemin for a one-timer that he couldn't bury. Either of those chances would have given the Islanders a 3-0 lead.
But the Panthers muscled back into the game in the third period, outshooting the Islanders 11-4 in the final frame - after outshooting them 28-16 in the first two periods. Kyle Rau snuck his first-career goal between Halak and his post, making it a 2-1 game with 11:04 to play and the Panthers kept coming until Marchessault's tying goal.
"It's frustrating right now, playing a pretty solid game and a bad goal at the end of regulation," Halak said. "We just need take the positives again and get ready for Monday because that's a big game for us at home. Just need to play for 60 minutes and that's all it is. It starts with me."
The Islanders get back at it on Monday when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning at Barclays Center. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.
Dennis Seidenberg left the game after taking a high puck in the third period and did not return.