Panthers cruise past Islanders 5-3
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- Scottie Upshall scored twice in the third period as part of a four-goal Panthers surge and Florida downed the New York Islanders 5-3 on Sunday.
Upshall's 11th of the season broke a 3-3 tie at 10:31 of the final period. The goal came on the rebound of shot by Shawn Mattias, who also scored two goals for the Panthers.
Upshall tapped the loose puck past backup goaltender Anders Nilsson, who started in place of Evgeni Nabokov. Upshall scored again at 15:26 on the power play to make it 5-3 for Florida. Tim Thomas made 35 saves for the Panthers.
The Islanders entered the third with a 3-1 advantage after Thomas Vanek scored twice in the first and Ryan Strome added a goal late in the second.
But Florida's Marcel Goc and Matthias scored early in the third to tie the game at 3 before Upshall's late scores.
The 30-year-old Upshall, a first-round pick by Nashville in 2002, almost completed a hat trick with two minutes left.
Vanek opened the scoring at 6:41 with his 20th of the season and added his 21st on the power play at 7:39. The goals were his first since Jan. 25.
The Islanders lost for the second time in three games while the Panthers broke a four-game losing streak.
Vanek was a major acquisition by the Islanders from Buffalo on Oct. 27 and has 17 goals in 47 games for New York. The Austrian left wing said he wants to test free agency this summer.
Thus the Islanders will likely try to trade him before Wednesday's deadline while they can still garner assets in return.
After Matthias scored for Florida to make it 2-1 at 18:15 of the second, Strome restored the two-goal margin for the Islanders 59 seconds later with his second of the season.
Goc's 11th of the season at 3:16 of the third came on a 40-foot floater from just inside the left point to make it 3-2 early in the third. Matthias scored his second of the game and ninth of the season at 4:18.
The afternoon matchup was chippy from the start.
Rival tough guys Krys Barch of the Panthers and the Islanders' Eric Boulton squared off 2:25 into the game. Eight seconds later, a skirmish ensued between Brain Strait of the Islanders and Jonathan Huberdeau of Florida.
The Islanders beat Toronto in overtime last Thursday in their first game back following the Olympic break. But they were drubbed 6-1 on Saturday by the New Jersey Devils as Jaromir Jagr scored his 700th career goal.
The Islanders played without defenseman Travis Hamonic, suspended one game for instigating a fight near the end of Saturday's loss.
The Islanders activated forward Frans Nielsen before the game and sent Mike Halmo to AHL Bridgeport. Nielsen, who has 18 goals, suffered a broken hand when he was slashed against Colorado on Feb. 8.
The Islanders head out for a four-game Canadian road trip - Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver before returning home to face San Jose on March 14.
NOTES: The Panthers have played 30 one-goal games this season, with a 12-11-7 mark. ... Florida was without forwards Alex Barkov (knee) and Tomas Kopecky (upper body) while the Islanders also missed forward Matt Martin (lower body). ... Florida scratched captain Ed Jovanovski and forward Scott Gomez.