Hoffman scores in OT, sends Panthers past Islanders 3-2
The victory-starved Florida Panthers made the most of a power-play in overtime against the New York Islanders.
Mike Hoffman scored with the man advantage 33 seconds into the extra period, lifting the Panthers to a 3-2 win over the Islanders on Wednesday night.
The winning goal was the fourth of the season for Hoffman and was assisted by defenseman Keith Yandle and captain Aleksander Barkov. The Panthers, who have two wins in eight games this season, improved to 6-1-0 in their last seven road games against the Islanders.
“Specialty teams are huge nowadays. Any of the top teams in the league will have good specialty teams,” said Hoffman, the former Ottawa Senator who was acquired in a trade involving San Jose before the season. “To get two on the power play tonight definitely had a big part in us getting the two points.”
The Panthers won for just the second time in eight games this season. Backup goaltender James Reimer made 20 saves in his first win of the year.
“As a team, we just kept battling and kept fighting and finally we were rewarded,” Reimer said. “We just needed to stick with it. There’s no magic potion. You just have to keep doing your thing.”
The Panthers were called for delay of game with just under three minutes left in regulation, but the Islanders wiped out that power play when center Mathew Barzal was sent off for interference at 18:35. That penalty led to the power-play chance in overtime and Hoffman’s goal that completed a three-goal rally by the Panthers.
Frank Vatrano – also on the power play – and Evgenii Dadonov scored for the Panthers in the third period against Islanders goalie Robin Lehner, erasing a two-goal deficit.
“They capitalized on the power play. They have some high-skill guys who made some plays,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “We lost a special teams game tonight.”
Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle staked the Islanders to a 2-0 lead heading into the third period, but the Panthers then struck on the goals by Vatrano and Dadonov.
Nelson opened the scoring late in the first with his third goal of the season at 18:36. Josh Bailey picked up the assist.
Eberle increased the lead at 11:42 of the second against Reimer, finishing off a pretty passing sequence with his first goal of the season. Barzal and Anders Lee assisted.
Last season’s Calder Trophy winner as the league’s top rookie, Barzal leads the Islanders with eight points through eight games.
The Islanders were coming off a four-game road trip in which they lost three times. It was their first home game since Oct. 8, when they defeated the San Jose Sharks 4-0 when Lehner made 35 saves.
The Panthers (2-3-3) finally broke through against Lehner at 2:46 of the third, when Vatrano knocked in a rebound for his third goal of the season.
Then, Dadonov scored his fourth goal at 10:35 to tie the game. Assists went to Barkov and MacKenzie Weggar.
Florida was coming off a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Panthers will complete their metropolitan area visit with a game against the Devils in New Jersey on Saturday before heading to Finland for two games against the Winnipeg Jets.
Florida’s previous victory was a 6-5 shootout win at Washington on Oct. 19.
Lehner made 13 saves in each of the first two periods. He couldn’t get through the third unscathed, but did finish with 38 saves. The Swedish netminder joined the Islanders as a free agent over the summer after three seasons with the Buffalo Sabres.
“I thought Robin was solid,” Trotz added. “We took a penalty and they capitalized at the end. We weren’t on our toes enough.”
Yandle, who previously skated for the Arizona Coyotes and New York Rangers, played his 723rd consecutive game. He is 15 games from passing Jay Bouwmeester for sixth place in NHL history.
“We’ll enjoy the two points tonight and hopefully this will give us some momentum,” Hoffman said.
NOTES: The Islanders had a video tribute to Charles Wang, the team’s former majority owner who passed away at 74 last Sunday. … The Islanders announced their home game against Toronto on Feb. 28 — the return of former captain John Tavares — would be at Nassau Coliseum instead of Barclays Center in Brooklyn. … The Islanders visit the Panthers in Florida on Nov. 10 and April 4. … The Islanders scratched forwards Tom Kuhnhackl and Ross Johnston, plus defenseman Lucas Sbisa. … Florida scratched forward Derek MacKenzie and Denis Malgin, plus defenseman Mark Pysyk.
Islanders: Visit Philadelphia on Saturday.
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