Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:The good times came to an end with a thud Tuesday night for the Islanders.
After winning four straight games, and seven straight on the road, the Isles watched as the Panthers scored three goals in the first period and one in the second while on their way to a 4-2 victory. It was the first time since February 12, 2012 that the Panthers defeated the Islanders.
Similarly to previous games the Islanders first period left a lot to be desired. The team was out shot and out played in the first, allowing the Panthers to score less than a minute into the game. Aleksander Barkov gave Florida the 1-0 lead 34 seconds into the period. The Isles managed to hold off the Panthers for a while, including a five-on-three power play opportunity for Florida, but the home team found the back of the net yet agin late in the first.
Drew Shore scored at 15:34 to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead and Nick Bjugstad made it 3-0 with 34 seconds left in the period. In the second period, Florida added one more goal late with the Islanders on the power play. Scottie Upshall made it 4-0 at 15:59.
The Islanders did manages to get two goals of their own during Tuesday night’s loss. Colin McDonald scored in the final minute of the second and Thomas Vanek cut the Panthers lead to 4-2 2:38 into the third period.
But unlike in Dallas and Colorado, there was no comeback on this night. The Islanders had a few chances in the third period, however the Florida defense and the goaltending of Tim Thomas, who made 31 saves, was enough to keep the Islanders from climbing back into the game.
“I thought we played a pretty good game, but we talk about our puck managment all the time. Then obviously those two [goals] and the shorthanded really hurt us,” Islanders Coach Jack Capuano said after the loss.
The loss should serve as a wake up call to the Islanders on what can happen when you do not start off a game strong. The Isles were outshot 10-8 in the first and allowed the Panthers all the chances in the world during the period. The visitors eventually found their rythem in the second and third period, but by then it was too late for them.
However Capuano did not characterize the start as slow, but rather said it was about puck management.
“I don’t think it was a slow start,” he said. I think it’s how you manage the puck. The puck is on their stick and they have to make a play with it. The first and third goal is a prime example of that. I thought we were playing pretty good and then the late one in the first hurt us… From my standpoint it’s always about how we managed the puck. We made some bad errors coming out of our end tonight.”
The Islanders will have the chance to rebound on Thursday when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning.