A young Islanders team put on a strong effort against the Florida Panthers, Wednesday night at the Bank Atlantic Center, but fell just short, losing a 4-2 decision that included an empty-net goal.
The Islanders took it to the Panthers in the first two periods, out-shooting them 24-18, but managed only five shots in the third period. Florida ultimately out-shot the Islanders 32-29.
"We talk a lot about the effort," said head coach Ted Nolan. "The effort was there and they played hard, with Billy Guerin leading the way. We could have had a couple more lucky breaks go our way in the first to help change the result, but I like how the guys rallied. The kids from Bridgeport played with energy and the veterans led."
Captain Bill Guerin and Blake Comeau scored goals for an Islanders team featuring the likes of Ben Walter, Steve Regier, Tim Jackman and Matthew Spiller. The Islanders were missing a total of ten regulars from their lineup due to injuries. Comeau had his game-tying attempt in the final minute go just over the net.
"When things are going bad, they keep going bad," said Nolan. "Blake just missed that last one. In his career, I think Blake will score more than he misses."
Tomas Vokoun picked up the win with 27 saves, while the Panthers earned goals from four different players to win their fifth straight game.
Guerin put the Islanders up 1-0, 28 seconds into the second period. After a series of saves by Rick DiPietro, Jeff Tambellini chipped the puck up to Richard Park, springing a 2-on-1. Park fed a perfect pass across to Guerin, who one-timed the puck past Vokoun.
The Panthers tallied the equalizer when Kamil Kreps converted on a Panthers 2-on-1 less than a minute later.
The Panthers took a 2-1 lead at 1:05 of the third period when Stephen Weiss chipped a loose puck just over the goal line during a net-mouth scramble.
The Islanders tied the game at two on the power play. Mike Comrie found Comeau with a spin-around pass. Comeau let go a laser that beat Vokoun with 7:18 gone by in the third period.
But Florida took a 3-2 lead when Karlis Skrastins' shot from the point beat DiPietro 1:04 later.
Comeau had a golden opportunity to tie the game at three with DiPietro pulled, but he shot a bouncing puck over the net that was open with Vokoun down. Brett McLean added the empty-netter moments later for a 4-2 game.
The Islanders return to action to face the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
Five Stars of the Game:
1. Jay Bouwmeester: An all-around game with an assist, +4, 27:12 TOI, 2 takeaways, 2 blocked shots 2. Tomas Vokoun: Steady in his sixth consecutive win against the Islanders 3. Blake Comeau: Generated a lot of offense, 4 shots, 4 hits 4. Karlis Skrastins: Tallied the game-winner, +3 5. Bill Guerin: Showed strong leadership with a young. team, chipped in with a goal
Stat of the Game: Showing extra confidence in Blake Comeau, Ted Nolan rewarded him with 17:46 of ice time – the most by any Islanders forward
Slapshots: Richard Park and Trent Hunter were tonight's alternate captains… The Islanders were without Ruslan Fedotenko (sprained knee), Brendan Witt (sprained MCL) and Andy Hilbert (foot)…Bruno Gervais might be ready to go for Saturday's game against Montreal.
6 Matthew Spiller - 24 Radek Martinek
44 Freddy Meyer - 3 Rob Davison
4 Bryan Berard – 2 Aaron Johnson
15 Jeff Tambellini – 10 Richard Park - 13 Bill Guerin
7 Trent Hunter – 63 Josef Vasicek - 20 Sean Bergenheim
28 Tim Jackman - 89 Mike Comrie - 57 Blake Comeau
81 Miroslav Satan - 29 Ben Walter – 48 Steve Regier
Goaltenders 29 Tomas Vokoun
31 Craig Anderson
4 Jay Bouwmeester – 3 Karlis Skrastins
5 Bryan Allen – 21 Cory Murphy
22 Jassen Cullimore – 6 Magnus Johansson
53 Brett McLean - 12 Olli Jokinen - 85 Rostislav Olesz
10 David Booth - 9 Stephen Weiss - 16 Nathan Horton
18 Ville Peltonen - 11 Gregory Campbell – 7 Steve Montador
14 Radek Dvorak - 54 Kamil Kreps – 33 Wade Belak
Check out the Islanders TV Game Day tab for complete coverage tonight’s game.
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