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Isles drop 12th in a row, losing 4-1 to Florida

by Brian Compton
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders matched a dubious team record on Saturday night.

New coach Jack Capuano's squad allowed four even-strength goals in under eight minutes during a nightmarish second period as the Isles matched a franchise worst with their 12th consecutive defeat, a 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

New York (4-12-3) has earned one of a possible 24 points during this skid, which started with a 4-3 loss at Florida on Oct. 23. The Islanders last dropped 12 straight games during their inaugural season in 1972-73.

They'll try to avoid a new low Sunday afternoon at Atlanta, where Rick DiPietro is expected to receive his first start since Nov. 3, when he allowed 7 goals at Carolina.

"I thought we had a couple of passengers," Capuano said, an indication that the promotion of Jesse Joensuu from AHL Bridgeport for this game might not be where the Islanders stop in terms of player personnel moves. "As we move forward, guys need to be held accountable."

Mike Santorelli scored twice and Stephen Weiss had a goal and an assist for Florida, which reached the .500 mark with the victory (9-9-0). Tomas Vokoun made 39 saves.

"I've been through those slides, too," Panthers defenseman Dennis Wideman said of the Isles. "It's tough. We knew they were going to come out hard and play desperate hockey. We just wanted to try to stick with it and keep it close and keep getting better as the game went on."

Matt Moulson gave the Isles a 1-0 lead with 6:53 remaining in the first period. With the teams at even strength, Bryan McCabe sent an errant pass from behind the net into the slot, where Moulson intercepted and ripped a wrister past Vokoun. It was Moulson's eighth goal of the season and the lone highlight of the night for the Islanders, who Moulson feels lacked passion in his team's latest loss.

"We have to play with a little more passion than that," the deflated forward said. "If that's the type we have, it's going to be all losses. You can't give back against teams in this League, no matter who they are. It's tough.

But after killing off a 5-on-3 that lasted 1:46, the Panthers scored a pair of goals in a 39-second span to take a 2-1 lead. Santorelli tied it at 2:27 of the second period when he beat Dwayne Roloson with a high wrister from the left circle before Radek Dvorak fired a shot from the top of the left circle that was redirected by Marty Reasoner and past the Isles' goaltender.

"It was nice to get a couple," Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. "We found a way to find the back of the net. We've had 11 of our first 18 (games) on the road, so we haven't had an easy schedule. We've managed to pick up points and hang around in games. It'll be nice to be at home, for sure."

Santorelli quickly notched his second of the night when he beat Roloson at 6:25. The Panthers' forward, who entered the game with 4 goals on the season, was left alone in front and swiped a cross-crease feed from David Booth into an open net to make it 3-1.

"I just want to focus on getting chances and move my feet and use the guys around me," said Santorelli, who appeared in just his 50th NHL game Saturday night. "That was a huge (penalty) kill for us. We came out (for the second period) and we killed it. We just moved from there. I think that was the starting point."

Weiss gave Florida a three-goal lead at 10:21 of the second. Again at even strength, Weiss took a pass from Dmitry Kulikov, blew past Bruno Gervais and fired a wrist shot from the slot past Roloson to make it 4-1. It was Florida's fourth even-strength tally in a span of 7:54.

"They got goals that we haven't got all year," said Roloson, who made 27 saves. "It's just the way everything's going right now. Guys are probably just feeling a lot of pressure. You're pretty anxious to do whatever you've got to do to win a hockey game. We're getting there. We're taking steps in the right direction to get there, but unfortunately it's taking us a long time. We need to get a couple of goals that they got tonight to turn this thing around."

The Islanders played without captain Doug Weight, who is suffering from back spasms. Weight has 2 goals and 7 assists in 18 games.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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