After earning a thrilling win in their return from the Olympic break, the New York Islanders had their momentum quickly halted by a lopsided defeat.
A visit from the struggling Florida Panthers might give the Islanders just the opportunity to bounce back Sunday afternoon.
Anders Lee scored two goals in his season debut, including the equalizer with 3:40 left in regulation, and Lubomir Visnovsky lifted New York (23-31-8) to a 5-4 overtime win against Toronto on Thursday. Michael Grabner scored two short-handed goals on the same penalty to help the Islanders end an 0-5-1 home skid.
New York followed with a 6-1 drubbing to visiting New Jersey on Saturday, getting outshot 35-19. Kyle Okposo scored the home team’s lone goal – his team best and career-high 25th – in the second period.
The Islanders, 2-7-1 in their last 10, surrendered four power-play goals to the Devils and Evgeni Nabokov was pulled before the third period after giving up five goals on 19 shots.
"The game went away from us pretty quickly," Nabokov said. "This is part of the business. You got knocked down, but you have to get up again and you have to do the job.
"When the penalty kill is good, the goalie makes the saves. Today that wasn’t the case."
New York will try to rebound by sending Florida (22-31-7) to a fifth consecutive defeat and sixth in a row on the road. The Panthers and Buffalo are the only two teams behind the Islanders in the Eastern Conference standings.
Florida was also beaten handily Saturday, 6-3 by Columbus, after losing 5-4 to Washington in its return from the Olympic hiatus Thursday.
The Panthers gave up the go-ahead goal to the Capitals with less than five minutes to go and let the Blue Jackets take the lead for good Saturday on a short-handed goal with 10 seconds left in the second period.
The Panthers gave up three power-play goals and have allowed 13 goals in their last 38 times short-handed. They also went 0 for 4 with a man advantage and are 3 for 69 on the power play in the last 21 games, causing coach Peter Horachek to fume after Saturday’s loss.
"Special teams stink!" Horachek said. "Those guys aren’t taking their responsibility for the penalty killing. … There were individuals who let everybody else down."
Florida, losers in seven of eight overall, topped the Islanders 4-2 in the lone matchup this season Jan. 14 despite going 0 for 5 on the power play. Scottie Upshall’s short-handed goal late in the second period gave the Panthers an insurmountable 4-0 lead in that game.
The performance also ended a four-game skid in the series for Florida. The Panthers have lost by a combined 8-2 score in their last two visits to Nassau Coliseum, and the latest was a 5-2 defeat April 16.
Grabner scored twice in that game and Nabokov stopped 26 shots.
Nabokov is 4-0-0 with a 1.71 goals-against average and a shutout in his last four starts against Florida.