The Islanders and Panthers went goal for goal Wednesday night on Long Island, but New York struck last, picking up a 4-3 overtime win on a goal by Mark Parrish.
A shorthanded rush by Shawn Bates on the Islanders' first penalty kill nearly cost each team a player, when he was bumped by former Islander Olli Jokinen. As a result, Bates flew into the net, while Jokinen rolled over Panthers goaltender Jamie McLennan. Both players stayed on the ice, tended to by trainers, but each returned after a few minutes of recovery.
Jokinen made things happen again minutes later, as the Panthers converted on their second powerplay of the evening. Carrying the puck out of the Florida zone, he bounced the puck off the boards to lead Jozef Stumpel into the Islanders' end of the ice. A quick pass to the slot sent Juraj Kolnik in on net, where he roofed a shot over Garth Snow for his eighth goal of the year and a 1-0 lead.
With eight minutes left in the first, the Islanders' top line was determined not to leave the ice without a goal, and delivered one. Oleg Kvasha set up Miroslav Satan on a 2-on-1 chance that was a bit out of his reach, despite a desperate dive for the puck. The Panthers looked like they would clear the zone, but Alexei Yashin stripped the puck free to set up Kvasha, who fired a one-timer hard enough to sneak through McLennan's five-hole.
Despite finishing the first period with 10 saves following the early-game collision with Jokinen, McLennan didn't return in the second, and was instead Roberto Luongo entered the game. The Panthers replacement was equal to the few early shots he faced, stopping 11 shots.
On the other end of the ice, Snow made some nice saves, but was beaten as the Islanders tried to kill another powerplay, eight minutes into the second. Knocking down the puck between the circles, Brad Lukowich inadvertently put it on the stick of defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski, who wristed it past Snow on the glove-side.
It may have been a different goaltender in the Florida net, with a different five-hole, but to Kvasha, it was all the same. Handing off to Satan in the corner of the Panthers' zone, Kvasha went to the slot, where Satan found him for a one-timer that beat Luongo through the legs and trickled into the net.
Though on the scoreboard the two teams were tied entering the third period, the Islanders took the ice down by one, as Jason Blake left the game with bruised ribs. Mattias Weinhandl and Jeff Hamilton took turns filling his spot on the second line. Blake will be re-evaluated on Thursday.
The fifth goal of the night wasn't pretty, but the play that set it up was. Digging the puck free behind the Islanders' net, Martin Gelinas slid it over to young winger Nathan Horton who quickly passed to Joe Nieuwendyk in front of the net. The shot didn't come off cleanly, but Horton's fast pass got Snow moving, which allowed the floating puck to beat him, giving Florida a 3-2 lead four minutes into the third.
The two powerplay goals allowed by the Islanders loomed large when defensemen Radek Martinek and Brent Sopel were sent to the box within a minute of each other, but a strong effort by the killers, including Bates, Mark Parrish and Mike York, kept the Islanders within a goal of the visitors.
Kvasha came up big again in the third period, only this time he didn't light the lamp. Powering his way around down low in the Panthers' zone, he emerged with the puck and dropped it to Satan at the point, who unleashed a hard shot on goal. The puck clipped the toe of Yashin's skate, deflecting just wide of Luongo's leg pad and just inside the far post, knotting the game at three.
The score would remain tied, despite a later powerplay chance for New York, but that wouldn't be the worst part of the period. With eight seconds left in regulation, the Islanders suffered deja vu of the worst kind, when Snow was injured by a Florida Panthers player falling on his leg. Called up from Bridgeport to fill-in for the injured Rick DiPietro, Wade Dubielewicz entered the game, and made one save before the game went to overtime.
Missing two key players going into an extra session, the Islanders still managed to come from behind for the win, thanks to an excellent faceoff performance in the Panthers' zone by Bates. Allowing Florida to win the draw, Bates leapt into the corner, got control of the puck and passed it out in front to Parrish, who chipped it up and over Luongo for the gamewinner. With three saves in the final two periods of play, Dubielewicz picked up his first win of the season, and helped snap a five-game losing streak for the Islanders.
OFF THE ICE: Three Stars of the Night: 1. Mark Parrish, 2. Oleg Kvasha, 3. Garth Snow... Before the game, the Chinese youth hockey teams the Islanders brought to North America from Harbin and QiQiHar stood with the players for the singing of the Chinese and American anthems. Between periods, they played 3-on-3 hockey on the Coliseum ice... For the Islanders, Rick DiPietro (knee), Kevin Colley (knee), Petteri Nokelainen (knee) and Tomi Pettinen (healthy) were scratched, while the Panthers sat Branislav Mezei (knee), Stephen Weiss (wrist), Anthony Stewart (wrist), Lukas Kraijcek (healthy) and Alex Semenov (healthy)... Arron Asham's next point will be his 100th in the NHL... The Islanders and Panthers might combine for a season-high in players who've played on both sides, with nine in total, including Mark Parrish, Eric Godard, Olli Jokinen and Eric Cairns... The Islanders hold a 2-1 lead in the season series after three games. Florida has won twice in the past 10 games against New York. Before the win in October, the previous Panthers win on Long Island was on December 15, 2001.
--additional reporting by Brian Bohl
Steve Stirling on getting back in the win column:
"We got frustrated and discouraged, but we didn't play all that bad in the tough times. Today we just kept plugging away and fighting back. Maybe two weeks ago we wouldn't have come back from those deficits."
On the play of Alexi Yashin and the rest of the offense:
"Yashin has been trying like a son of a gun and getting a lot of chances. I told him (before) just to relax and shoot the puck. You saw tonight they threw pucks at the night. It wasn't pretty but they don't ask how, they ask how much. They did a good job on the forecheck and getting turnovers."
Mark Parrish n the mood of the team:
"I heard a few guys say in the locker room say they almost forgot what it felt like to win. It was nice to get that winning attitude and that tempo back. We hope this is the start of something big, it would be nice to get on a nice, long streak."
On his game-winning goal:
"Bates told me before the faceoff he was going to go to the boards with it. I'm glad he won the draw because I was cheating on the faceoff right away. It was a great pass by him."
Alexi Yashin on getting a few breaks and creating chances:
"We played as a team. Today was one of the most complete games we've played in awhile. We were unlucky before but today it seemed the shots were going in."
(12) Oleg Kvasha-(79) Alexei Yashin-(81) Miroslav Satan
(55) Jason Blake-(16) Mike York-(7) Trent Hunter
(45) Arron Asham-(17) Shawn Bates-(37) Mark Parrish
(11) Mattias Weinhandl-(18) Jeff Hamilton-(49) Eric Godard
(77) Alexei Zhitnik-(44) Janne Niinimaa
(3) Brent Sopel-(25) Brad Lukowich
(14) Chris Campoli-(24) Radek Martinek
(30) Garth Snow
(34) Wade Dubielewicz
(10) Gary Roberts-(12) Olli Jokinen-(77) Chris Gratton
(85) Rostislav Olesz-(25) Joe Nieuwendyk-(16) Nathan Horton
(23) Martin Gelinas-(15) Jozef Stumpel-(51) Rob Globke
(43) Serge Payer-(44) Gregory Campbell-(13) Juraj Kolnik
(4) Jay Bouwmeester-(55) Sean Hill
(20) Joel Kwiatkowski-(26) Mike Van Ryn
(7) Steve Montador-(33) Eric Cairns
(29) Jamie McLennan
(1) Roberto Luongo