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game recap

Islanders hold off Panthers in Game 1 of Cup Qualifiers

Varlamov makes 27 saves, Pageau, Beauvillier score for New York

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

Pageau scores opening goal

FLA@NYI, Gm1: Pageau pots Brassard's centering pass

SCQ, Gm1: Jean-Gabriel Pageau crashes the net and sends home a nice centering feed from Derick Brassard to open the scoring

  • 00:41 •

Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored, and Semyon Varlamov made 27 saves for the New York Islanders in a 2-1 win against the Florida Panthers in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Saturday.

It was the first time the Islanders won with Pageau in the lineup; they were 0-3-4 in their final seven regular-season games after he was acquired in a trade with the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 24. The NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

Anthony Beauvillier also scored for New York, the No. 7 seed in the Eastern Conference.

"I really think that that little break gave me a chance to know a little more of the system, getting to know the guys more," said Pageau, who was 8-for-10 on face-offs. "I feel very lucky to be part of this family. I really feel that this is a brotherhood, and to be part of it, I feel very lucky."


[WATCH: All Panthers vs. Islanders highlights]


Jonathan Huberdeau scored, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 26 saves for Florida, the No. 10 seed in the East.

Game 2 of the best-of-5 series will be in Toronto, the Eastern Conference hub city, on Tuesday (12 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV, TVAS, MSG+, FS-F). The series winner will advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

There hasn't been a best-of-5 series in the NHL since 1986. The League used them for the preliminary round of the playoffs from 1980-86, and the team that won Game 1 went on to win the series 87.5 percent of the time (49 of 56).

"We got better once the game went on in the second, third period. We were good," Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said. "[We were] putting a lot of pressure on them. Game 2 starts from 0-0, so we have to keep doing what we did in the second half of the game and keep getting better, keep building on that and we should be fine.

"We're really excited and we're really happy about our late push. Obviously not the result we wanted, but we're going to get better."

Pageau gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead when he redirected a cross-ice pass from Derick Brassard at 12:00 of the first period.

"He always raises his game; he's extremely competitive," Islanders coach Barry Trotz said of Pageau, who has 13 goals in 36 NHL postseason games. "That's what we were looking for (when we acquired him). We were looking for someone with good hockey IQ and a high competitive level at center ice, and he's fit that bill."

Beauvillier one-timed a pass from Devon Toews for a power-play goal at 3:39 of the second period to make it 2-0.

Video: FLA@NYI, Gm1: Beauvillier blasts one-timer for PPG

Huberdeau scored 23 seconds into the third period to make it 2-1 when he skated in from the left-wing boards and put a backhand past Varlamov, who was making his first postseason start since 2014.

"When we went into the second intermission, we said we had to score the next one and that's what we did," Huberdeau said. "It was good for the team. After that, I think we pushed really hard we just didn't find the back of the net. We have two [days off] between Game 2 and [we have to] come back as hard as we finished."

Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk left the game at 2:44 of the second period following an illegal check to the head from Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson.

Trotz did not have an update on Boychuk's status after the game. As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, teams are not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.

Matheson initially received a major penalty, but it was reduced to a minor following a video review.

Despite playing the rest of the game with five defensemen, the Islanders were able to limit the Panthers to five shots on goal in the third period.

"I think one of the things that we talked about is we have an understanding of what we're capable of doing, what we are," Trotz said. "I don't think we try to be something that we're not. It was a good response. You learn to be comfortable in a very uncomfortable situation, a one-goal game. We've handled that pretty well in the last two years for the most part, and hopefully that's experience, hopefully that's part of our structure, hopefully that's part of our DNA."

Video: FLA@NYI, Gm1: Huberdeau slips home five-hole goal

Bobrovsky, who allowed five goals on 34 shots in a 5-0 exhibition loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, saved all 10 shots he faced in the third period.

"He responded. He had a great game," Florida coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought he made several key saves all alone a couple times in tight. [He] looked quick. [He] gave us a chance to get something out of today's game."

Panthers forward Lucas Wallmark did not play and was replaced by forward Dominic Toninato.

"He's close," Quenneville said. "We'll reevaluate the lineup going into the next game. It was a heck of a game as far of the competitiveness of it. A lot of thing going on. That's where we're at." staff writer David Satriano contributed to this report

Video: Islanders grab 1-0 series lead vs. Panthers

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