NEW YORK — The Islanders allowed a two-goal lead slip away on Wednesday night in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers. It was Mike Hoffman’s goal 33 seconds into overtime that pushed the Panthers to victory.
Frank Vatrano helped pull the Panthers to within a goal early in the third period with a power-play goal and Evgenii Dadonov tied the game at two at 10:35. Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle each scored for the Islanders.
Robin Lehner made 38 saves in the loss for New York.
1. Wednesday night’s loss ran the course of an all too familiar script for Islander fans. With the team leading by two goals heading into the third period, the Islanders allowed the Panther, who were playing the second half of games on back-to-back nights, to rally from behind. The Islanders were outshot 13-6 in the last 20 minutes of regulation and allowed 41 shots on Lehner.
The Islanders also struggled to come away faceoff wins in key situations, including on the game-winning goal.
“We just weren’t on our toes enough in the third,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “You don’t want to sit back if you have the lead and that’s something we talked about from day one. Just learn how to manage it. We got some veteran guys. We’ve got some young guys as well. Just manage it right… Unfortunately, we weren’t able to keep our discipline a little bit.”
2. “We had the lead. Sloppy second. We talked about just trying to find a way to come out with more energy and get on the attack. We just weren’t able to get that extra momentum. That extra push and it could have been the difference.” — Brock Nelson on what happened in the third period.
3. It was a rough night for the Islanders in the penalty department on Wednesday night. The Islanders took six penalties over the course of the evening, which included four in the third period alone. It was Andrew Ladd’s slashing penalty and Mathew Barzal’s interference that lead to power play goals for the Panthers.
Florida’s power play had been towards the bottom of the league entering the game, having scored just four times in 31 man-advantages. The Islanders had allowed only four power-play goals this season before Wednesday.
“Nothing changed in our structure in the third, it’s just they capitalized on the power play,” Trotz said. “There’s a turnover. Nothing really changed. They have some high skill guys that are going to make some plays. They made a couple plays, got an opportunity… We lost special teams game tonight and they were even on the five on five.”
4. The Islanders hadn’t been playing poorly before things took a turn in the third period. The Panthers, despite having outshot the Islanders in all three periods, didn’t appear to have many quality scoring chances on Lehner and the Islanders.
Perhaps the Panthers best scoring chance, before their third-period comeback, came in the second period when Barzal coughed up the puck in his own zone to Colton Sceviour. Lehner was able to make the save on the ensuing shot.
“I thought for the most part I liked our game through two (periods),” Eberle said. “I know we were getting outshot but we’re a much better team structurally in our D zone. I don’t mind spending time in there just based on the way that we’re playing in there. But a 2-0 lead in the third, you don’t want to sit back on your heels. You want to go at them and push. That’s how good teams win games.”
5. “You have to learn to play with a lead. You have to learn to put teams away. Teams are going to fight until the end, just like we are when we’re down two, so they just did a good job of creeping back in and putting themselves in a position to win. We let it slip away.” Anders Lee on Wednesday’s loss.
6. The Islanders honored former owner Charles Wang before the game with a video tribute and moment of silence. It was a nice touch by the franchise Wang did so much to keep the team in New York.
7. It was another small crowd on hand with an announced attendance of 9,743 at Barclays Center. The Islanders have not come close to a sellout crowd once this season through the first three home games in Brooklyn.