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Instant analysis: Islanders vs. Panthers, Game 6

Tavares ties game, gets winner in second OT to end New York's playoff drought

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

NEW YORK -- John Tavares scored his second goal of the game at 10:41 of double overtime, and the New York Islanders won their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Florida Panthers with a 2-1 victory in Game 6 at Barclays Center on Sunday.

Jonathan Huberdeau scored and Roberto Luongo made 49 saves for Florida, which was less than a minute away from extending the series to a seventh game.

But Tavares tied the game with 53.2 seconds left in the third period. Thomas Greiss made 41 saves for the Islanders, who won a series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 1993.

Video: FLA@NYI, Gm6: Tavares wraps around for GWG to clinch

What we learned: Tavares' second goal ended 23 years of frustration for the Islanders, who hadn't won a series since David Volek's overtime goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins sent them to the 1993 Wales Conference Final. Three of the Islanders' four victories in the series came in overtime, and they won back-to-back games in the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

What this means for Panthers: Florida's season is over despite once again outplaying the Islanders for large stretches at 5-on-5. The Panthers nearly made Huberdeau's goal with 1:02 left in the first period stand up, but Tavares extended the game with his late heroics. It's a season Florida hopes to build on after winning the Atlantic Division.

What this means for the Islanders: New York came awfully close to having to board a flight to South Florida for Game 7. But Tavares sent the game into overtime, then ended the hex for his franchise in double overtime, giving an entire generation of Islanders fans their first playoff series win.

Key moment: Luongo came within 53.5 seconds of a shutout before Tavares, who didn't have a shot on goal entering the third period, poked a loose puck in the crease over the goal line after the Panthers' goaltender didn't realize he didn't have control.

Video: FLA@NYI, Gm6: Tavares swoops in, ties it late in 3rd

Unsung player of the game: Islanders defenseman Marek Zidlicky had another solid game in the absence of Ryan Pulock, playing a physical game and not getting caught out of position. Zidlicky was a plus-2 in 21:33 of ice time.

What's next: The Islanders move on to the second round to face the Tampa Bay Lightning. The start of that series has yet to be determined. The first two games will be played at Amalie Arena.

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