A night of bad bounces and missed opportunities was highlighted by Florida Panther center, Nathan Horton’s four-point night which included three goals and an assist, leading his team to a 7-1 victory over the Islanders. The line of Trent Hunter, Rob Schremp and Jesse Joensuu were the lone bright spot for the home team, creating space and opportunities with their size and eventually scoring the lone Islander goal, coming off the stick of Joensuu, in the second period.
Florida opened the scoring 14:28 into the opening frame on the first of three unlucky Islander bounces. Bruno Gervais skated through the Islander zone and tried to make a cross-ice pass to one of his forwards flying through the neutral zone but had the puck picked off by Panther forward, Repik. The Florida winger pushed the puck ahead of him, committing to a move, and back-handed a shot over Roloson for his second goal of the season to make the score 1-0 in favor of the Panthers.
Horton doubled the Florida lead about three minutes into the second period when his centering pass deflected off of Islander defenseman, Jack Hillen for his ninth tally of the season.
Joensuu, playing in his second game this season would tally his second career NHL goal just under two minutes later. Trent Hunter forced two centering attempts, the first of which Vokoun deflected behind the net. His second attempt wound up on Joensuu’s stick in front where the big Finnish forward slid the puck through the Panther net-minder’s legs to cut the Florida lead to 2-1.
The third of three bounces that wound up in the back of the Islanders’ net came with the Islanders on the man-advantage. Horton pressured Islander defenseman Mark Streit at the right point, causing a turnover and allowing him to skate in alone from the redline in. Horton ripped a shot over Roloson’s glove for his second marker of the game and tenth of the season to give the Panthers a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes of play.
Four more Panther goals in the third period would close out the scoring, including Horton’s third of the contest, giving Florida a 7-1 victory over the Islanders. Stephen Weiss, Kamil Kreps and Radek Dvorak also had tallies in the final 20 minutes of play.
The Islanders out-shot the Panthers by the count of 31 to 26 but were 0-for-2 on the power-play while Florida was 2-for-2 on their man-advantages.
Wednesday begins a two-game home and home series with the New York Rangers, at 7 p.m. from Madison Square Garden. The two teams will return to the Nassau Coliseum the following night (Thursday) for a 7 p.m. face-off. For tickets or information on any upcoming Islander home games, contact the team’s front office at (516) 501-6700 or e-mail email@example.com.
1. Nathan Horton – Scores three goals and an assist
2. Tomas Vokoun – Makes 30 saves to earn the win
3. Stephen Weiss – Adds to his team lead with 15 goals
Honorable Mention: Michael Repik – Scores a goal and an assist
Extra Time: The Panthers have been in a league high, 13 games this season that have needed either overtime or a shootout to decide a winner. They are 6-7 in those contests including a 5-4 shootout win against the Islanders back on November 14 at the BankAtlantic Center. The Islanders are only one game behind Florida with 12 of their 32 games this season going to overtime or the shootout.
100 Games: Islander forward Josh Bailey played his 100th NHL game tonight against the Panthers.
Home Cookin’: Prior to tonight’s game against the Panthers, the Islanders had only played 12 home games, the fewest in the NHL. The Islanders had a 7-3-2 record on Coliseum ice before the puck was dropped tonight. Lineups