Florida Panthers Rally Late, Drop Shootout in Return to Long Island

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 12: Ryan Pulock #6 of the New York Islanders is defended by Jonathan Huberdeau #11 of the Florida Panthers during the second period at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on October 12, 2019 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 12: Ryan Pulock #6 of the New York Islanders is defended by Jonathan Huberdeau #11 of the Florida Panthers during the second period at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on October 12, 2019 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Florida Panthers were upended in the shootout, losing 3-2 in New York for the second consecutive night, this time to the New York Islanders.

This game was very similar to the Friday night loss to Buffalo, a low-scoring affair where the Florida Panthers play an awful second period, rebound in the third period, but just can’t seem to get it done.

Yet again, it was another great display from the Panthers’ netminder. While Friday was Sergei Bobrovsky, Sam Montembeault made good of his first start of the new season, with 26 saves and one save in the shootout.

The Cats entered this game making a lot of changes to the forward core, trying to get some of the cogs working. Frank Vatrano and Mike Hoffman started alongside Aleksander Barkov with Evgenii Dadonov and Jonathan Huberdeau playing between Denis Malgin on line two. Vincent Trocheck was demoted to the third line while Henrik Borgstrom was scratched.

On the defensive side, MacKenzie Weegar started alongside Aaron Ekblad with Anton Stralman moving next to Mike Matheson. Certain parts of these changes worked, certain parts did not, and it might have been a case of too many changes at the same time that prevented the Panthers from scoring more.

The game started on a good note for the Panthers, with the team outplaying the New York Islanders throughout the first period. Joel Quenneville‘s team got their deserved goal as well. With the Islanders slow to get back in defense, Florida made them pay, as Dadonov centered the puck for Denis Malgin, who arrived late to score his first goal of the season, a deserved 1-0 lead.

Florida did well to start the game, outshooting New York 12-9 in the first, defending well, and keeping up with the pace of the game. Similarly to Friday night, the game went downhill out of the first intermission.

Throughout this season, Florida have struggled to defend the puck for long periods of time in their own zone. Whether it’s on a delayed penalty or are just struggling to maintain control of the puck, the team eventually cracks, giving up a goal.

This would happen yet again early into the second. Mathew Barzal, who gave Florida fits all game, especially in eventual overtime, got the puck to Anders Lee in the slot, and the Islanders’ captain fired home, levelling the score. It was a hard shift for Stralman and Matheson, staying on the ice for too long, losing concentration, and giving up the goal.

The Panthers really failed to come up with a response after the goal, in fact, all period. The Panthers had just one shot on goal in the first 10:30 of the second period, and eventually, the hosts got their best chance of the night.

Giving the puck away in the neutral zone, the Panthers couldn’t get back to properly defend the 3-on-2, with a quick passing play between Adam Pelech and Jordan Eberle getting through the slot to Josh Bailey, giving New York the lead with roughly 2:30 to go in the period.

After a torrid period, Florida rebounded in style in the final period. The Cats pestered Semyon Varlamov all period, with Aaron Ekblad and Aleksander Barkov coming closest to breaking the deadlock.

When things were looking bleak, Florida finally found their equalizer. Anton Stralman’s long pass to Jonathan Huberdeau put the Cats in motion, and Huberdeau left the puck for Evgenii Dadonov to fire into the top right-hand corner, leaving no chance for Varlamov.

This goal was Dadonov’s third goal in three games, as well as Anton Stralman’s first goal as a Panther. It seemed to give a massive spark plug for the Panthers, who went on to almost steal the game in the dying stages.

With roughly a minute to go, Mike Matheson, who had some very consistent shifts tonight, threw the puck out in front, with Noel Acciari getting a stick to it, but Varlamov deflecting it away with the pad. The puck eventually sat in the slot, but nobody could jam it home, and the new Isles goalie finally covered up.

The overtime period didn’t feature a whole ton of chances with the Islanders bossing control of the puck for the first two minutes. Montembeault made a nice save on Lee, both teams gave the puck away trying for long stretch passes, and we headed to a shootout.

After Brock Nelson scored, the Panthers went cold. Barkov sent a backhander wide, and Trocheck and Huberdeau both had tame efforts denied by Varlamov, securing his first win as a member of the New York Islanders.

The issue with Florida tonight is that they almost played into the Islanders’ way of playing. Barry Trotz’s team were very focused on holding the puck, trying to exhaust Florida’s skaters, and it worked. Both goals saw the Panthers make sloppy mistakes, the first with positioning, the second with the puck.

The Panthers were also yet again poor on the man advantage, going 0/3 on the power play. Even if one of the power plays was abbreviated, the Panthers’ didn’t show any semblance of strategy with the extra skater, missing out on three big opportunities.

Overall, another frustrating night at the office, as the Florida Panthers yet again give enough to deserve one point, but can’t do enough to secure the other. This is a problem that has been addressed so many times before, the Cats starting the season slowly, and it doesn’t look to be fixing any time soon.

Next. Panthers Fall to Buffalo 3-2 in Shootout. dark

The Panthers will conclude this three-game road trip on Monday, as Florida head to the Garden State to take on Taylor Hall and the New Jersey Devils at a 1:00 P.M. matinee start.