NHL Game Summary - NY Islanders at Florida
(Wednesday, March 17th)
Final Score: Florida 6, NY Islanders 4
Sunrise, FL (Sports Network) - Roberto Luongo made 50 saves to lead the Florida Panthers to a wild 6-4 win over the New York Islanders at Office Depot Center.
Stephen Weiss, Nathan Horton, Olli Jokinen, Matt Cullen, Mikael Samuelsson and Donald Audette each scored goals for the Panthers, who were outshot 54-24 but beat the Islanders for the first time this season (1-3) and kept their slim playoff hopes alive.
Florida, which scored four straight goals to erase a 2-0 deficit, trails New York by seven points for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Buffalo is also in the hunt and beat Atlanta 4-3 in overtime on Wednesday to pull within four points of the eighth-place Islanders. All three teams have nine games remaining.
"We believe we can come back and win," said Panthers head coach John Torchetti. "I think we've shown every sign as a hockey team that we want to try to make the playoffs. We could have folded our tents tonight."
Adrian Aucoin, Trent Hunter, Michael Peca and Mark Parrish each tallied goals for the Islanders, who had a two-game winning streak stopped and wrapped up a five-game road trip at 2-2-0-1.
Rick DiPietro gave up four goals on 12 shots before giving way to Garth Snow after Florida scored its fourth goal of the game. Snow didn't fare any better, giving up two third-period goals.
After Hunter's goal gave the Islanders a 2-0 lead in the first period, the Panthers exploded with four unanswered scores to take control of the contest.
Horton slipped a gorgeous pass between two New York defensemen to a streaking Weiss just beyond the blue line. Weiss, using his speed, found himself on a breakaway and beat DiPietro through the five-hole, making it a 2-1 game with 1:23 left in the first.
The Panthers trailed just 2-1 after one period despite being outshot 28-7.
"Nobody was satisfied with the first period," said Luongo. "I was just trying to keep it close."
DiPietro misplayed a clearing attempt behind the net and Norton grabbed the loose puck, stuffing the disc into the empty net to make it 2-2 just 2:25 into the second.
"To give up such a weak goal was a momentum-changer," said Islanders head coach Steve Stirling.
Jokinen then gave the Panthers the lead for good with a beautiful tally at the 14:30 mark of the stanza. Lyle Odelein grabbed a loose puck near the Panthers net and fired a pass to Jokinen down the left wing boards. Jokinen, who was carrying the puck, ripped a low shot from just inside the left circle, beating DiPietro low to the stick side for the shorthanded tally to make it 3-2.
Florida extended the lead to 4-2 just under four minutes later when Mike Van Ryn slipped a pass across the goalmouth to Cullen, who stuffed home the puck for his fifth goal.
Luongo stopped all 11 shots he faced in the second, while DiPietro surrendered three goals on five shots and was pulled after 40 minutes.
Peca beat Luongo five-hole on a redirected shot, making it 4-3 at 7:13 of the third.
Florida responded with Samuelsson's tally just 27 seconds later. Samuelsson wristed a high shot in the slot that beat Snow high to the glove side, making it a 5-3 contest.
Parrish's 18th goal brought New York within 5-4 with just 7:25 to play.
However, Luongo was solid the rest of the way, stopping a flurry of shots by Peca and Hunter late in the contest.
Audette would seal it after he redirected a shot by Jay Bouwmeester with under a minute left for the final margin.
New York took an early 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Aucoin and Hunter.
Florida's Samuelsson was whistled off for hooking at 4:19 of the stanza with New York already on a power play, and it took the Islanders just eight seconds to capitalize with Aucoin's tally. Cliff Ronning gathered a loose puck near the right circle and found a wide open Aucoin in the slot. Aucoin snapped a low blast that beat Luongo stick-side at the 4:27 mark.
New York owned a two-goal advantage after Hunter tallied his 24th of the season just over three minutes later. Dave Scatchard ripped a shot just near the left circle, and the puck caromed off Luongo's pad right to Hunter. The winger followed up the play and stuffed home the disc 7:37 into the period.
New York tied a franchise record with 28 shots on net in the first period. The previous mark was accomplished on December 5, 1978 against the Pittsburgh Penguins...New York is 5-1-3 in its last nine meetings against the Panthers.
03/18 00:17:38 ET