The New York Islanders skated to their third straight home win Tuesday night, downing the Florida Panthers 4-2 at Nassau Coliseum.
Matt Martin scored the eventual winner, as he, Travis Hamonic, Josh Bailey and Mike Halmo scored four unanswered goals giving the Islanders their first win against the Panthers this season. Colin McDonald chipped in with two assists as the Islanders won for the fourth time in five games (4-0-1).
“Lately, it’s been coming together pretty nicely,” Martin said. “In a lot of ways… this is pretty well our team for next season. It’s good that we are gelling, that everyone’s producing and playing good hockey right now.”
The Islanders dictated where and how the game was played, as they outshot the Panthers 40-22, out-hit them 31-17 and tracked hard defensively all game. The Islanders only miscue came early in the game, as Quinton Howden intercepted a pass for a shorthanded breakaway and put the Panthers up 1-0 at 1:50.
The goal didn’t faze the Islanders, who regrouped and answered on the same power play. Hamonic beat Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen with a long-range wrister 45 seconds later cooling the Panthers momentum and tilting the ice the other way.
“To get the tying goal was big,” head coach Jack Capuano said. “It’s real simple, shoot the puck... The surge started to go our way a bit there.”
Eleven minutes into the second period, Bailey put the Islanders ahead, joining the play after serving a tripping minor and roofing a loose rebound over Clemmensen. Bailey also assisted on Hamonic’s power-play goal, giving the Bowmanville, ON native four points (one goal, three assists) in his last four games.
Martin’s eventual winner came six minutes later, as he buried a smart, simple feed from McDonald, who purposely played a shot off Clemmensen’s right pad, forcing the goalie to kick the rebound into the slot.
“I saw Marty coming in and I just tried to lay one off [Clemmensen’s] pad,” McDonald said. “It couldn’t have worked out any better.”
Halmo rounded out the Isles scoring with his first-career NHL goal, which came in spectacular fashion, as the rookie batted his own rebound out of the air and past Clemmensen.
Evgeni Nabokov made 20 saves for the Islanders, conceding a late power-play goal to Brandon Pirri with four seconds to play. Clemmensen stopped 36 shots.
The Islanders play the back half of a back-to-back set Wednesday night against the Ottawa Senators. The puck drops in the Canadian capital at 7 p.m.
NOTES: The Nystrom award is given to the Islander who best exemplifies leadership, hustle and dedication and is voted on by the fans… Martin claims the award for a third straight season… Travis Hamonic led the Isles with 24:44… Cal Clutterbuck led the Islanders with seven hits… Matt Carkner fought Erik Gudbranson and Krys Barch.