Okposo scores shootout winner for red-hot Islanders vs. Panthers
The New York Islanders blew a late lead, yet still managed to pull out their fifth straight win.
Kyle Okposo scored the deciding goal in the shootout, and the Islanders outlasted the Florida Panthers 4-3 on Friday night.
Nikolay Kulemin, Ryan Strome and John Tavares had goals in regulation for New York, and Jaroslav Halak stopped 35 shots. Frans Nielsen also scored in the shootout.
"Having the lead in the third period, leading 3-1, you want to finish the game," Halak said. "We gave them hope to come back, and unfortunately for us they did.
"We found a way and stuck to the game plan."
Aaron Ekblad, Jimmy Hayes and Brian Campbell scored for Florida, and Vincent Trocheck had two assists. Roberto Luongo made 30 saves.
Jonathan Huberdeau scored the only goal in the shootout for Florida.
"It was a huge comeback for us, but I’ve got to find a way to make some saves in the shootout," Luongo said. "It’s not acceptable for me to let in two."
Leading 3-1, the Islanders seemed to be cruising to victory midway through the third period but the Panthers scored twice in the final 10 minutes to tie it.
Florida closed to 3-2 on Campbell’s power-play goal at 9:58. Campbell’s shot went over Halak’s left shoulder for his first of the season and first in 28 games.
"I’ve been in a struggle," Campbell said. "It’s nice to feel I’m starting to escape the last couple games and play the way I’m capable of."
The Panthers tied it with 2:35 left as Ekblad’s slap shot from just inside the blue line got past a screened Halak.
"For whatever reason, we stopped moving our feet, and it was just a lack of discipline, and it led to penalties," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "It’s the first time we’ve done it all year, really. We’ve got to learn from it."
The Islanders seemed to put the game away earlier in the third when they stretched their lead to 3-1 at 3:57. Johnny Boychuk’s shot bounced off Luongo’s chest, and the goalie couldn’t get a grip on the loose puck. It went under his pads, and Kulemin swept it in.
The Islanders had trailed 1-0 but scored twice in 1:59 to take the lead.
They got even at 13:09 of the second when Okposo passed the puck to Tavares in the right circle for a wrist shot that beat Luongo on the glove side.
New York went ahead on Strome’s breakaway goal. Strome took a nice pass from Thomas Hickey near the red line and came in alone. He put a wrist shot past Luongo with 4:52 left in the second.
"We just want to keep it going," Islanders forward Josh Bailey said. "It’s a long year, and when you get on a bit of a roll, you want to ride the wave as long as you can."
An odd play came with three minutes left in the second. Florida’s Aleksander Barkov shot the puck that Halak trapped between the back of his head and the crossbar. A video review confirmed that a goal wasn’t scored.
Hayes’ goal at 12:37 of the first was his third in three games and gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
Trocheck made a behind-the-back pass from in back of the net to Hayes in front, and his shot got by Halak. The goal ended the Islanders’ shutout streak at 193 minutes, 48 seconds, the second longest in team history.
The longest Islanders’ streak was 199:24, set in 1998.
NOTES: Halak is 9-1 in 10 games against Florida and has won five in a row against the Panthers. … Bailey returned after missing eight games with a hand injury. … Luongo is now fifth on the NHL career list in saves. … Panthers LW Sean Bergenheim missed his sixth game because of a lower-body injury.