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Florida Panthers 5, New York Islanders 3: Vanek's last game?

The 2013-14 season in a nutshell.

Find the open space.
Find the open space.
Bruce Bennett

The New York Islanders blew their umpteenth two-goal third-period lead of the season in the span of 62 seconds, turning a winning first 40 minutes into a familiar late loss, 5-3 to the Florida Panthers.

Unlike Sunday, this wasn't a matter of effort, just a matter of because Islanders. They outshot the Panthers, they mostly outplayed them and took fewer stupid penalties (until late), but they coughed up a winning position to somehow finish the game with fewer goals -- even after putting three past Tim Thomas.

The wheels fell off rapidly and conclusively, the Isles losing their composure as the game slipped away, looking every bit a team without direction.

Game Sum | Event Sum | Adv. Stats (Extra Skater) | Shift Charts | PBP | TOI | Faceoffs | Recaps: NHL | Isles |

Did I mention a goalie? Talk about the goaltending? That would have helped.

Anders Nilsson didn't help though. Notably he misplayed a fat rebound to concede the Panthers first goal, and later he allowed a screen shot to somehow go over his giant frame and into the net. The Islanders defense had some impressive miscues, particularly when Brian Strait and Andrew MacDonald combined to whiff on clear attempts on Shawn Matthias' tying goal.

It's as if the Isles goaltending is powerless to hep the Isles defense, while the defense's familiar culprits are powerless to change their fate.

Scottie Upshall completed the horror on the winning goal when Nilsson unknowingly left a rebound sitting in the crease to his left, an oversight we've seen before from him, allowing the Panthers to take a 4-3 lead. It was a disappointing start for Nilsson, coming after he'd reeled off several good ones down in AHL Bridgeport. But unfortunately it wasn't unlike most of his NHL appearances thus far.

With the wheels falling off, Matt Carkner was turned inside out by Marcel Goc, forcing a penalty, and the Panthers added an insurance goal on the ensuing power play.

If there was a bright side, other than 45 minutes of decent play (if you ignore the goaltending) it was that trade chip Thomas Vanek scored two goals early, and helped Ryan Strome score his second career NHL goal late in the second period to restore the (dreaded) two-goal lead at 3-1. Frustrated, bitter Isles fans will also enjoy Sean Bergenhim taking a trademark dumb penalty and skating himself offside while chasing an empty net goal.

Unlike Sunday, this game was at least fun for the first two-thirds, But that's about all that's worth saying about it.

Did someone mention a trade deadline? The Isles hit the road for one more game before Wednesday's deadline. Was this Vanek's last game? Will he make the trip to Winnipeg for Tuesday's game? Will he play? That's what passes for entertainment now.

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