4/1/14 Recap: Isles Top Panthers 4-2
The New York Islanders continued their recent strong play at the Nassau Coliseum Tuesday night as they doubled-up the Florida Panthers 4-2. The win was the Islanders third straight on home ice and improved their overall record to 30-35-10 on the year. The win also helped the Islanders stave off elimination officially for one more night as it continues play tomorrow night in Ottawa against the Senators.
Florida got on the board early while shorthanded as forward Quinton Howden beat goalie Evgeni Nabakov on a breakaway after a terrible misplay of the puck at the blue line by Matt Donovan. Fortunately for the Islanders the Panthers started Scott Clemmensen in net and were able to tie it later on the same power play after a Travis Hamonic shot found the back of the net off a faceoff win from Josh Bailey.
The rest of the first period was mostly uneventful until a spirited scrap between Matt Carkner and Erik Gudbranson late in the period. It was the first of two fights on the night for Carkner whom the Panthers decided to direct the brunt of their frustration towards.
Hell nearly froze over in the second period as Josh Bailey put home a rebound after a strong play from Colin McDonald in front of the net. It was Bailey’s seventh goal in what has been another disappointing season. To Bailey’s credit he celebrated the tally as a man who knows he has disappointed his team this year.
Late in the second McDonald blew past a Florida defender in the defensive zone and was able to get a sharp angle shot off that Clemmensen kicked out to an oncoming Matt Martin. Martin was thankful for the gift as he buried it into the empty net for his eight goal of the season. The goal set a career high for Martin who has found his scoring touch in recent games playing on a wing with McDonald and rookie Ryan Strome.
Although they entered the 3rd period with the dreaded “two-goal” lead, the Islanders were able to add to their lead when Mike Halmo buried his own rebound on a two on one for his first career goal.
The game got chippy as the period went on despite only two penalties being called in the final frame. A late high-sticking penalty by Anders Lee led to a Florida power play goal with only 6 seconds left in the game.
The last-second goal made the final score more respectable but could not hide the fact the Islanders were the faster and more effective team throughout the game. The Islanders outshot Florida 40-22 and outside of a few chances in the 2nd period, Nabakov was not forced to make too many difficult saves.
While it is nice for the team to continue its strong play, one must be cautious about overreacting to this recent surge. The playoff pressure is off and while rookies Strome, Brock Nelson, and Calvin de Haan have played well, the true test of their character won’t be revealed until the team is fighting for something more than lottery position the last month of the season. Hopefully this season will be the last time for a long time the Islanders find themselves in this all-too familiar position.
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