Highlights from the New York Islanders’ 5-4 win over the Florida Panthers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference first round playoff series.
Many expected the Eastern Conference first round playoff series between the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers to feature plenty of goals and end-to-end action. Game 1 did not disappoint, as the Islanders came from behind three separate times to beat Florida 5-4 on Thursday night at the BB&T Center.
Florida wasted no time in its quest to pick up the franchise’s first playoff series win in 20 years. Teddy Purcell scored less than two minutes in on a nice feed from Jiri Hudler to put the Panthers up 1-0 quickly.
New York responded five minutes later, as Ryan Strome found Brock Nelson on a breakaway for an easy score past Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo. Jussi Jokinen’s Power Play tip-in gave the Panthers a brief lead at the 13:51 mark of the first period, but a nifty move from John Taveras set up Frans Nielsen on an Islanders Power Play to even things at two at the intermission.
The open-ended play continued in the second period, with Jaromir Jagr and the Panthers putting on the majority of the pressure. Reilly Smith continued his career year with a goal off a friendly bounce to give the Panthers yet another one-goal lead at the 1:31 mark of the second.
Florida dominated the rest of the period, but could not extend the lead any further, as Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss made a number of terrific saves filling in for the injured Jaroslav Halak. Taveras made Florida pay with twenty seconds left before the intermission, beating Luongo on a one-timer to even the game for a third time.
Despite a lack of forecheck through the first two periods and issues defending the Jagr line, the Islanders made the most of their limited opportunities to remain in the game. New York took its first lead of the game at the 2:33 mark of the third on another terrific play by Taveras to set up a Kyle Okposo goal.
Three minutes later, the Islanders suddenly found themselves up 5-3 after Strome cleaned up a juicy Luongo rebound. New York’s shaky defense was unable to hold the two-goal advantage for long, as a turnover led to another Smith goal 55 seconds later.
New York knew more pressure was coming, but Greiss held Florida off, making 42 saves overall, including a game-saver on Jagr in the last minute. A Jokinen slashing penalty at 16:56 didn’t help, as the Islanders finished off a critical Game 1 win on the road.
3. Jussi Jokinen, LW, Florida. Tallied a goal and two assists to pace a productive performance by the Florida second line.
2. Thomas Greiss, G, New York. Terrific 42-save performance even while allowing four goals. Kept New York in the game in the second period and held off the Panthers late.
1. John Tavares, C, New York. By far the best player on the ice, totaling a goal and two flashy assists while consistently setting things up for the rest of the Islanders.
The Panthers will try to avoid an 0-2 deficit at home on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.