The New York Islanders rallied twice in regulation before eventually beating the Florida Panthers 3-2 in a shootout Sunday evening at BankAtlantic Center.
Frans Nielsen beat Jose Theodore with his patented backhand and improved to 7 for 11 in shootouts this season. Evgeni Nabokov turned aside all three Florida shooters as the Islanders earned their first win against the Panthers this season.
“We came out a little flat in the first period,” Nielsen said. “They knew we played last night so they came out hard. In the second and third we got the legs going and I liked the way we played.”
The Islanders were outshot 16-9 by the Panthers in the opening 20 minutes and found themselves down by one after a Stephen Weiss converted a chance at 5:55.
Matt Moulson responded for the Islanders with a power play goal at 18:57 of the second period, solving an otherwise rock solid Theodore. With the goal, Moulson extended his goal-scoring streak to three games. The Isles outshot the Panthers 14-9 in a much stronger second period.
“It was a big goal for us,” Nielsen said. “We had a lot of zone time and we kept shooting and shooting and couldn’t get it in, so it was a relief when he scored.”
Tomas Fleischmann put the Panthers back on top midway through the third, taking advantage of a strange bounce off a Mark Streit clearing attempt. Fleischmann threw a long wrist shot on net that snuck through a surprised Nabokov.
Two and a half minutes later the Islanders answered back with a friendly deflection off of the stick Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, who tipped home a Kyle Okposo shot on goal.
“In the second period we played well,” Nabokov said. “We had the momentum. The third period was kind of even, but we had our chances. I thought it was a pretty good game by us.”
Both goalies turned in solid outings for their respective teams Sunday. Nabokov made 33 saves in regulation and three more in the shootout while Theodore stopped 35 plus one in the shootout.
With an assist on Okposo’s goal, Josh Bailey extended his point streak to four games (1g/3a). John Tavares picked up his 44th assist of the season and has 12 points (5g/7a) in his last eight games.
The Islanders wrap up their five-game, two-week road trip with a stop in Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. Action gets under way at 7 p.m.