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5 Takeaways: Panthers Shut Out Isles, Pull Within 1 Point of Playoffs

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

3/26/18 Post Game Interviews

3/26/18 Post Game Interviews

Interviews with Bob Boughner, Derek MacKenzie, Keith Yandle, James Reimer and Nick Bjugstad

  • 01:54 •

The Florida Panthers can almost taste it.

With a 3-0 win over the New York Islanders at Barclays Center on Monday night, the Panthers pulled within one point of the New Jersey Devils for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with one game in hand and eight still left to play.

"We're just doing our job trying to get in," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said.

Making his second consecutive start, backup goaltender James Reimer stopped 32 of 32 shots to match a career high with his fourth shutout of the season. Over his last five starts, he has been nearly flawless, going a perfect 5-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average, a .970 save percentage and two shutouts.

"It's always nice when you're winning and things seem to be going well," said Reimer, who is 20-13-5 this season. "It's one of those things where you just try and take it in small increments and kind of just get lost in the game. It's a fun game out there when you're seeing the puck and your team's working this hard."

With the win, the Panthers (39-28-7) improved to 20-6-1 since the All-Star break - the most wins in the NHL during that span. Florida will play eight games in 13 nights to end the season, with four on the road and four at home.

"There's lots of hockey ahead of us," Panthers captain Derek MacKenzie said.

Here are five takeaways from Monday's win in Brooklyn…

1. MOMENTUM SHIFT

Keith Yandle broke the ice for the Panthers on Monday night, beating goaltender Christopher Gibson with a long wrist shot through traffic to give Florida a 1-0 lead 11:38 of the first period.

The goal was Yandle's eighth of the season and marked a noticeable momentum change in favor of the Panthers. At the time of the goal, the Islanders held a 9-8 shot advantage. By the end of the second period, Florida was up 35-21 in shots.

"I thought when we did the little things like getting pucks deep, we wore them down in their own zone," Yandle said of the momentum shift.

Yandle finished the game with a goal and an assist - his 13th multi-point game of the season - and currently ranks first among Florida's defensemen in points (52) and assists (44), while also leading the club in total ice time (1816:19).

Yandle is seven points shy of tying the career-high 59 he posted in 2010-11. 

Video: FLA@NYI: Yandle buries long shot through traffic

2. BJUGY'S GOT POWER

Nick Bjugstad scored his 18th goal of the season on Monday night, receiving a pass from Jamie McGinn in the right circle and firing a shot short-side to extend Florida's lead to 2-0 at 1:47 of the second period.

"It got bumped up to Jamie McGinn, he threw a saucer pass to me and I didn't have to do much other than get it on net," Bjugstad said. "We struggled a little bit in the first period getting it in the zone, as far as our power play goes. That was good to get."

What's so special about this goal, however is that it was the first time this season Bjugstad had found the back of the net on the powerplay. Entering the game, his 17 goals were the most in the league without any coming on special teams.

After posting a career-low 14 points last season, Bjugstad is in the midst of an impressive career renaissance. With eight games left to play, the 24-year-old forward has already set a new career high with 46 points (18 goals, 28 assists).

Video: FLA@NYI: Bjugstad snaps home PPG from the circle

3. MR. MULTI-POINT

For Evgenii Dadonov, good things tend to come in pairs. The 29-year-old winger registered a goal and an assist on Monday night for his 21st multi-point game of the season - which is tied with Aleksander Barkov for the most on the Panthers.

Dadonov's goal also came with a little help from New York, as his cross-ice pass from along the boards bounced off an Islanders defender and into the net to give the Panthers a commanding 3-0 lead at 6:09 of the second period.

Since the All-Star break, Dadonov has been absolutely on fire, recording 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists) in 27 games - second to only Barkov on Florida during that span. In 66 games this season, the 29-year-old winger ranks fourth on the Panthers in points (58) and third in goals (24).

Video: FLA@NYI: Dadonov banks puck in off defender's skate

4. REIM TIME

With a secondary assist on Dadonov's goal, Reimer picked up the third point of NHL career - a cool stat, but hardly the most impressive thing the 30-year-old backup goaltender accomplished on Monday night.

Reimer, who started in place of ailing starter Roberto Luongo, made 32 saves to earn his fourth shutout of the season - which is tied for seventh-most in a single season in Panthers history -- and 21st of his NHL career.

"He played a great game," Yandle said of Reimer. "He made a lot of huge saves and got an assist. It's a great game for him and a pretty good 60 minutes by us."

Although he made several highlight-reel saves throughout the game, Reimer gave most of the credit for his performance to his defense, which limited New York's ninth-ranked offense to 13 high-danger scoring chances in all situations.

"It was a hard-fought game," Reimer said. "Obviously, they're a really good offensive team and they can create a lot of chances. But I thought our guys did a phenomenal job of just clearing out the second chances in front.

"Obviously, a team like that's going to get chances, so you just want to limit them to as little from the middle and more from the outside and then take care of the garbage in front. There were a couple chances where if it wasn't for [the defense], I'm sure some would have gone behind me. They battled really hard."

Video: FLA@NYI: Reimer stones Beauvillier's chance in front

5. PENALTY KILL

The Panthers penalty kill was back in top form on Monday night, going a perfect 4-for-4 against the Islanders, who began the night with the sixth-ranked power play in the league (22.4 percent).

After allowing power play goals in back-to-back games, Florida's penalty kill held New York to just 12 shot attempts, one high-danger scoring chance and seven shots on goal when it had the 5-on-4 man advantage.

"Our penalty kill did a great job," Boughner said. "Reims is obviously your most important penalty killer, and he answered."

Since Nov. 22, the Panthers penalty killing unit ranks third in the NHL, killing off 125 of 147 opposing power plays (85 percent). The unit's 22 goals allowed are tied for the least in the league during that span. 

Video: FLA@NYI: Reimer flashes the leather to stone Bailey

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