"It was a game of basically less than inches," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. "With the opportunities at the end, we did some good things. Their goalie made some key saves. Some of [our looks] there around the net, if we could've buried some it could've been the difference."
Mathew Barzal opened the scoring for the Islanders, beating Sergei Bobrovsky with a backhand shot from near the low slot to put the Panthers in a 1-0 hole at 5:40 of the first period. After that, the teams were locked into a defensive battle, with neither lighting the lamp for over 40 minutes.
At 6:12 of the third period, Aleksander Barkov batted in a loose puck past Thomas Greiss from the doorstep to make it a 1-1 game. But just 38 seconds later, Scott Mayfield sent a shot toward Florida's net that bounced off two defenders before going in to put New York ahead 2-1 at 6:50.
Then, with roughly five minutes left to play, the game took a controversial turn.
With the Panthers on the power play, Barkov appeared to tie the game when he knocked a puck off Mayfield and into the net. Initially, the call on the ice was that it was a good goal. Soon after, however, it was overturned after officials deemed the puck had been touched with a high stick.
Upon further review, the secondary "no-goal" call was upheld.
"You could argue that one," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said of the sequence." Whatever call was going to be on the ice was going to be on the call. It originally was [good]. It's tough."
While the Panthers had a handful of good scoring chances in the final minutes of regulation, Greiss stood tall to secure the 2-1 win and help the Islanders extend their point streak to 12 games. Winning his sixth straight game, he turned aside 37 of 38 shots that came his way.
At the other end of the ice, Bobrovsky looked just as good while stopping 34 of 36 shots.
"He made some great saves all alone, a couple there at the end as well," Quenneville said of Bobrovsky. "He gave us a chance. Their goalie had one of those nights as well. It was one of those nights where goaltending was outstanding. The chances were pretty high-quality today."
Despite the loss, Florida (7-4-5) has earned at least one point in 11 of its last 13 games.
Here are five takeaways from Saturday's loss in Brooklyn…
1. BOB'S BIG SAVES
There's no other way to put it: Bobrovsky was on top of his game this afternoon.
Helping put the Panthers in a position to win the game, more than a handful of the 31-year-old veteran's 34 saves were nail biters. According to NaturalStatTrick.com, he stopped 14 of the 15 high-danger scoring chances he faced, including a pair of breakaways late in the third period.
Video: FLA@NYI: Bobrovsky makes a pair of pad stops
"I felt pretty good," Bobrovsky said. "I felt comfortable there. I thought our guys helped me. I like the low-scoring games. I try to take the positives from this game, build up from it and move on."
Finding his rhythm as the season rolls along, this loss marked the first time since Oct. 8 that he didn't backstop Florida to at least one point. Over his last nine starts, he's posted a 5-1-4 record.
"They defend very well," Bobrovsky said of the Islanders, who currently possess the league's top-ranked defense. "Unfortunately it's one of those games where we couldn't pull the trigger."
2. SASHA SCORES AGAIN
This is quickly becoming a copy-and-paste take at this point.
With the Panthers sent to the power play looking to climb out of a 1-0 hole, Barkov whacked in a loose puck from right outside the blue paint to make it a 1-1 game just 6:12 into the third period.
Video: FLA@NYI: Barkov evens game on the power play
"Of course I'm happy to score goals, but it doesn't really feel good right now," Barkov said. "We lost the game. I had a couple other chances to score and help the team, but it just didn't happen. Tomorrow's a new chance, and we're already thinking about it."
After going 12 games without a goal to start the season, Barkov has now lit the lamp in each of his last four games. Tied with Jonathan Huberdeau for the team-scoring lead in scoring with 20 points, the 24-year-old center also currently ranks tied for fourth in the league with 16 assists.
Very active throughout the entire game against the Islanders, Barkov unleashed a game-high nine shots on goal - his most since racking up 10 in a game against Detroit on Jan. 5, 2018.
3. POWER PLAY HEATING UP
Barkov's goal continued a promising trend for the Panthers on the power play.
Finding the back of the net with the man advantage in each of the last five games, they've gone 5-for-17 (29.4 percent) with the extra attacker in that span. In their 1-for-4 performance against the Islanders, they had numerous close calls, finishing with eight shots and 11 scoring chances.
"It's frustrating that we couldn't get more than one goal," Barkov said. "We had chances. We had enough chances. We created a lot of chances to score a goal. Bob helped us and gave us a chance to win the game, but we couldn't score enough goals."
After today's contest, Florida's man advantage currently ranks tied for eighth in the league at 22 percent. Individually, Barkov and Keith Yandle lead the club with seven power-play points each.
The Panthers checked off a major franchise milestone this afternoon.
By taking the ice on Long Island, the team officially played in its 2,000th regular-season game. In the midst of their 26th season in the NHL after entering the league in 1993-94, the Panthers own an all-time record of 824-834-142-200 for 1990 points, not including their 18 wins in the playoffs.
As this season progresses, a few individual milestones are also expected to be hit. Huberdeau needs just five assists to pass Stephen Weiss (249) for the most helpers in team history, while Barkov is 14 scores away from overtaking Pavel Bure for the third-most goals.
Additionally, both players could surpass Olli Jokinen's franchise record of 419 points as well.
5. GOING TO THE GARDEN
In a bit of a scheduling oddity, the Panthers will be right back to work tomorrow afternoon.
Moving from one borough to another, they'll have little time to prepare before battling the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday. After losing five of their first seven games, the Rangers (7-6-1) have turned things around and won five of their last seven.
"We'll move forward against a team that's playing pretty good right now, too." Quenneville said.
Florida has done well in the second half of back-to-back sets this season, earning points in two of three games while owning a 1-1-1 record. With Bobrovsky starting on Long Island, there's a good chance that backup Sam Montembeault is in between the pipes tomorrow in Manhattan.
Starting the second game of every back-to-back and making four appearances this season, the 23-year-old rookie has gone 1-1-1 with a 2.81 goals-against average and .905 save percentage.
"We have another chance tomorrow," Barkov said of facing the Rangers.
The Panthers have not competed in back-to-back matinees since October of 2016.
BONUS: TROCHECK RETURNS
Missing the last seven games with an injury, Vincent Trocheck returned to action this afternoon.
Slotting right into his usual spot as Florida's second-line center, the 26-year-old registered one blocked shot while also going 4-for-7 (57 percent) in the faceoff circle over 15:35 of ice time.
"He was working," Quenneville said. "He was doing some things there."
In nine games this season, Trocheck has notched one goal and six assists.