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Luongo makes 41 saves, helps Panthers even series

Gets Game 2 win against Islanders, had lost seven straight in playoffs

by Alain Poupart / NHL.com Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo said he had to be better in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the New York Islanders, and he most definitely was.

Luongo made 41 saves, and Reilly Smith and Nick Bjugstad each had a goal and an assist when the Panthers defeated the Islanders 3-1 at BB&T Center on Friday.

The Panthers tied the best-of-7 series 1-1. Game 3 is at Barclays Center on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, MSG+, FS-F, TVA Sports 2).

Luongo gave up five goals on 26 shots in a 5-4 loss in Game 1. He ended a personal seven-game losing streak in the playoffs Friday; his prior playoff victory was 1-0 against the Boston Bruins in Game 5 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.

"It's important to play well as much as you can every game as much as possible," Luongo said. "It's a long series, so we'll enjoy tonight but it's back to work tomorrow. I mean, they all feel good. It's playoffs, man."

Luongo made big saves, particularly in the second period. His best was a blocker save on a one-timer by Ryan Strome from the slot. Luongo stopped Cal Clutterbuck from close range early in the third period when Clutterbuck came in alone after beating defenseman Alex Petrovic with a deke.

"The last two years I had this guy in nets and he's one of the best goalies in the League in my opinion," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "We knew he was going to bounce back tonight. I don't think he was bad last night. I just think they made some great shots. Tonight he was outstanding and that's what we expected. We knew he was going to have a good game."

Video: NYI@FLA, Gm2: Luongo denies Strome with the blocker

Dmitry Kulikov scored an empty-net goal with 9.3 seconds left and had an assist.

John Tavares scored for the Islanders. Thomas Greiss, who made 42 saves Thursday in his first Stanley Cup Playoff start, made 28 saves.

The Islanders outshot the Panthers 42-31, the second time the team with more shots lost. Florida had a 46-26 advantage in Game 1.

"I thought we should have come out of here 1-1," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "They probably deserved the first night but tonight we played the way Islanders hockey was supposed to be played. Their goalie made some big saves when he had to."

Video: NYI@FLA, Gm2: Kulikov sends it the length of the ice

In the first period, Luongo had to make a couple of saves while playing 1:43 without a stick before defenseman Erik Gudbranson retrieved it in the corner and handed it to him. The crowd cheered its approval when Luongo finally got his stick back.

"I don't mind it," Luongo said. "I almost play better without a stick sometimes. I'm confident in being able to close everything up, even if I don't have one. So it feels like the fans kind of made more of it than it did."

Jaromir Jagr's streak of playoff games without a goal extended to 33 dating to the 2012 playoffs, but the Panthers forward had good scoring chances. He deflected a shot from Jonathan Huberdeau in the first minute and had a backhand go just wide early in the third period.

Smith, who had two goals and an assist in Game 1, gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead at 4:32 of the first period Friday on a rebound after Greiss stopped Bjugstad's backhand.

Video: NYI@FLA, Gm2: Smith bangs in rebound past Greiss

"It seems like the puck is following me around right now, and I have to give a lot of credit to my linemates," said Smith, who has been playing with Nick Bjugstad and Jussi Jokinen. "It's awesome to be able to help the team on this stage. It seems like there's a lot of dirty goals at this time of year and I just try to get to the net and find pucks."

Bjugstad made it 2-0 at 6:17 of the second period with his first NHL playoff goal off a feed from Smith. After Kulikov backhanded the puck along the boards behind the net, Smith wheeled around and put a perfect backhand pass in front of the net for a one-timer.

Video: NYI@FLA, Gm2: Smith sets up Bjugstad to extend lead

"It was exciting," Bjugstad said. "I was right in front all alone. Reilly threw a great pass and I put it in. First playoff goal, so definitely kind of got the goose bumps after going through the line. We played a pretty good game, so that obviously helps scoring a goal too."

Smith had another scoring opportunity after Bjugstad's goal on a turnaround shot from the right circle, but Greiss extended his right leg to make the save.

Tavares scored with 3:33 left in the third period on a rebound off a shot that bounced off the boards behind the net. He had a goal and two assists in Game 1.

"It was pretty intense out there, a tighter game," the Islanders captain said. "I thought we controlled more of the game today. Luongo made some big saves. We just ran out of time."

Panthers defenseman Michael Matheson, their first-round selection (No. 23) in the 2012 NHL Draft, made his Stanley Cup Playoff debut. He replaced veteran Jakub Kindl and played 13:28 with a plus-1 rating.

Video: Luongo, Smith help Panthers tie series with Islanders

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