Rick DiPietro's return from a six-week absence due to facial fractures was a resounding success for the New York Islanders.
DiPietro stopped David Booth's penalty shot in overtime and denied two shootout attempts as the Islanders beat the Florida Panthers 4-3 on Saturday night for their first win in South Florida in more than four years.
Frans Nielsen and PA Parenteau scored in the shootout against Scott Clemmensen as the Isles rebounded from a 3-2 overtime loss at Carolina on Friday, ended a six-game losing streak on the road and gave DiPietro a win in his first game since being injured in a fight with Pittsburgh goaltender Brent Johnson on Feb. 2.
"Ricky made a huge save for us there," coach Jack Capuano said of the stop on the penalty shot. "I really liked Rick's compete level tonight."
The Islanders trailed 2-1 after two periods, but Parenteau tied it at 7:09, firing home a shot from the slot after Clemmensen put the carom of Jack Hillen's pass right onto his stick. Michael Haley put New York ahead at 9:50 by finishing off an end-to-end rush by turning defenseman Joe Callahan and beating Clemmensen.
Stephen Weiss' one-timer from just inside the left circle with 6:24 remaining in regulation got the Panthers even. They had a chance to win it with 28.9 seconds left in OT when Booth was hooked by Isles defenseman Andrew MacDonald on a breakaway and awarded the penalty shot, but missed the net.
"It's disappointing to not get the win," Weiss said.
For DiPietro, it was a moment of elation.
"I'll take a win any way I can get it," said DiPietro, who finished with 29 saves before winning for the 19th time in 29 career shootouts. "I would rather have not let in that third goal, but a little extra work never hurt anybody."
Rookie Michael Grabner, acquired by the Islanders from Florida on waivers just before the season, opened the scoring 5:14 into the second with his 30th goal of the season, the most among first-year players. Grabner and Nielsen went in 2-on-1 while killing a penalty, and Grabner rifled Nielsen's tape-to-tape pass behind Clemmensen for his fourth shorthanded goal of the season.
Grabner joined Matt Moulson as a 30-goal scorer -- the first time the Isles have had more than one since Alexei Yashin and Mark Parrish reached the 30-goal mark in 2001-02.
"It's nice not to have to worry about it too much," he said of getting to 30 goals. "Hopefully now I can relax a little. It was a great pass from [Nielsen], he's a play-maker. It's easy to play with him."
Florida rookie Evgeni Dadonov, returning from a broken finger also suffered on Feb. 2, tied it at 11:17 and put the Panthers ahead at 17:28, giving him his first multigoal game in the NHL.
"It was disappointing, going into the third with a 2-1 lead and then give up four shots and lose the game," Florida coach Pete DeBoer said. "I thought we deserved better, but give the Islanders credit. They're opportunistic and don't need many chances around the net to score. We had chances, but you need to have the killer instinct to make it 3-1 at some point. … We've struggled through that all year. You let teams hang around and bad things happen."
Material from team media was used in this report