NHL Game Summary - Florida at NY Islanders
(Monday, October 10th)
Final Score: Florida 3, NY Islanders 1
Uniondale, NY (Sports Network) - Roberto Luongo stopped 29 shots, including a penalty shot in the third period, to lift the Florida Panthers to a 3-1 victory over the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.
Kristian Huselius and Chris Gratton scored second-period goals to erase a 1-0 deficit for Florida, which has won three of its first four games of the season.
Luongo has been brilliant in all four games, having surrendered just three goals in that span. The former first-round pick of the Islanders was named the NHL's Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts last week and has had to be strong with his teammates managing only eight goals for the season.
"You can't just focus on goals, you have to look at the number of chances," Panthers head coach Jacques Martin said about the offense's struggles. "You [also] have to give credit to their goaltender."
Rick DiPietro made 20 saves for the Islanders, who have dropped two of their first three to start the season. Miroslav Satan scored the lone goal for New York, but he was also stopped on a penalty shot early in the third with his team trailing 2-1.
Just 5:26 into the third period, Satan was hooked from behind as he broke free behind the Florida defense. Despite being able to get a shot away, a penalty shot was called.
Satan tried to beat Luongo through the five-hole, but the goaltender quickly closed his pads to make the save.
The Islanders, who killed off a pair of Florida power plays early in the third period, then failed to cash in a pair of power-play chances midway through the stanza.
After killing off another Florida power play late in the third, DiPietro left the net for an extra attacker with just over a minute to play. The strategy backfired when Rostislav Olesz scored into the empty cage for his first NHL goal.
"We did not respond," said Islanders head coach Steve Stirling about his team's effort after Florida took the lead. "We had the opportunity to respond, but we did not respond with smart hockey."
The Islanders spent much of the game on the penalty kill, as the Panthers finished 1-for-11 with the extra skater. New York was just 1-for-7 with the man-advantage.
Florida trailed 1-0 and managed just five shots against DiPietro in the opening period, while Luongo was forced to stop 11 of the 12 Islander shots.
The Panthers picked up their play in the second period and scored twice in a span of just over 4 1/2 minutes to grab the lead.
Huselius cashed in a power play at the 3:15 mark, banging home the rebound of a Sean Hill point shot for his first goal of the season.
An Islander giveaway led to the second Florida goal, as Oleg Kvasha turned the puck over at center ice.
Niklas Hagman gained control at the left point and tried to make a cross-ice pass. Islander defenseman Brent Sopel was racing back into the zone and tipped the puck toward the net, creating a two-on-none in front of DiPietro, who had no chance when Nathan Horton directed a pass across the top of the crease to Gratton for the easy tap in.
The Panthers had a chance to extend their lead with a two-man advantage for 1:35 late in the second, but managed just one harmless shot on goal.
"We got sloppy a couple of shifts," Stirling added about his team's play in the second period.
The Islanders opened the scoring at 6:06 of the first period on a power play. Alexei Zhitnik had the puck at the center point and fired a shot that hit the post. Satan was alone at the right side of the crease and banged the rebound home for his second goal of the season.
Luongo kept it a one-goal game just over four minutes later with a brilliant stop on Jason Blake. Blake got behind the Florida defense and was all alone in the right circle. He quickly cut across the top of the crease and had a wide open net, but Luongo was able to drop the paddle of his stick along the goal line to deny Blake's shot.
Satan had another great chance late in the period with a one-time blast from the right circle, but Luongo slid across the crease to make the save.
Luongo was the fourth overall selection of the 1997 draft...Zhitnik celebrated his 33rd birthday Monday...Florida had lost four straight in Uniondale and won for the first time on Long Island since December 15, 2001.
10/10 16:31:01 ET