Most of the players on the Florida Panthers roster are Canadian, but for the second consecutive season, the luck of the Irish was on the Cats side in a St. Patrick's Day win over the New York Islanders.
Six different Panthers scored goals in an 8-5 win in front of 17, 078 at the BankAtlantic Center. The Panthers beat the Islanders on St. Patrick's Day 2006 as well, getting goals from Joe Nieuwendyk, Jay Bouwmeester, Martin Gelinas and Juraj Kolnik, and solid goaltending from Jamie McLennan in a 4-2 Cats win at With the win the Cats move to 7-1-1 in their last nine home games.
The Panthers are back in action on Tuesday night at Philadelphia, before returning home for a date with the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night. Puck drops at 7:30 p.m. at the BankAtlantic Center.
The Cats took the lead for good on two consecutive goals from Captain Olli Jokinen. Jokinen got his first midway through the third period, just moments after Islanders defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron tied the game at four with New York's third power play goal of the evening.
Jokinen beat Isles goalie Mike Dunham with a wrist shot from the hash-marks after taking a feed from second-year forward Rostislav Olesz. Jokinen then iced the game a few minutes later with a wraparound goal from David Booth and Gregory Campbell.
Ryan Smyth scored near the end of the third to make it a 6-5 game, but Jozef Stumpel and Ville Peltonen added empty net goals, both on assists from Jokinen, to put the game out of reach.
Jokinen finished the game with two goals and three assists for five points and was named first star of the game by the South Florida media.
Forward Juraj Kolnik gave the Panthers a 4-3 lead at 7:59 of the second period, beating Islanders Dunham off a pass from Ville Peltonen. Kolnik's goal, his second consecutive St. Patrick's day tally, broke a 3-3 tie, with all six of those goals coming during a feverish first period that also featured 20 total shots on goal and three Islanders power plays.
After Rostislav Olesz scored off an Jokinen rebound to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead, New York scored two unanswered to take a 2-1 lead. The Panthers answered right back, however, scoring two of the next three goals to knot the game at three entering the second period.
First Ville Peltonen scored off a nice cross-ice feed from Chris Gratton to make it 2-2. Then, just moments after a Mike Sillinger goal for New York, Gregory Campbell buried a one-timer off a pinpoint pass from rookie forward David Booth to make it 3-3.
The Cats dropped an 8-spot on New York despite the red-hot line of Nathan Horton-Martin Gelinas Stephen Weiss
being held scoreless. To compensate, the Cats got points from 11 different players and multi-point games from Gratton, Jokinen, Booth, Stumpel, Peltonen and Campbell.
Panthers goalie Ed Belfour got the win in his 23rd consecutive start, a Panthers record. Belfour has 23 wins over that span. Dunham got saddled with the loss, allowing six goals on 33 shots.
Sillinger (2), Ryan Smyth (2) and Marc-Andre Bergeron scored for the Isles.
- The Cats have won six consecutive Saturday home games.
- Jokinen got his 30th career gamewinning goal, a Panthers franchise record.
- The Panthers are 8-0-1 when second year forward Rostislav Olesz scores a goal.
- First string Isles goalie Rick DiPietro was out of the lineup after
hurting his neck in a collision on March 13.
- Over the last 16 games, Panthers defensemen have 4 goals and 22
assists including four assists against New York.
- With two goals and an assist Olli Jokinen clinched his second career
- With two assists rookie forward David Booth recorded the first
multi-pint game of his career.