It will be remembered for a circus shootout in which the first nine shooters each scored -- mostly on moves that would never have time to happen during actual game play -- but the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers also played a pretty entertaining hockey game Friday night in Sunrise before the Panthers secured the extra point after Roberto Luongo made the shootout's first and only save.
They got there after a third-period comeback in which the Islanders scored twice in a three-minute span to tie it 2-2, and after an overtime where almost four minutes of it was spent 4-on-4.
Having come back in the first 10 minutes of the third period and really grabbing control of play for the rest of regulation, the Islanders had a great chance to win on a power play that bridged the end of regulation and the first 35 seconds of overtime.
Instead, that chance failed, and Brock Nelson was stopped in the fifth round of the shootout after...Brandon Pirri scored...and Frans Nielsen scored, and Vincent Trocheck scored, and Kyle Okposo scored, and Nick Bjugstad scored, and John Tavares scored, and Jonathan Huberdeau scored, and Josh Bailey scored, and Aleksander Barkov scored.
The game began with 10 minutes of firewagon hockey, the teams exchanging seven shots apiece for the first eight minutes until Brandon Pirri rifled a shot that deflected up over Jaroslav Halak's shoulder to give the home team a 1-0 lead.
Things continued in back-and-forth manner into the second period, when the Panthers doubled their lead off a brilliant faceoff play by Trocheck to set up Jussi Jokinen on a goal that made several Islanders (Frans Nielsen, Travis Hamonic, Josh Bailey) look bad.
In the third, Ryan Strome announced his return and got the Isles on the board with a great one-timer from the right-wing faceoff circle, set up by Mikhail Grabovski. The Isles' fourth line was hemmed in on the next shift, but after that the top line had a strong (but too long) shift followed by the Frans Nielsen line continuing the pressure until Josh Bailey tied it from the slot as Anders Lee screened and Nielsen drew coverage away from Bailey.
The game had seen only one penalty up to that point, a hooking call on Grabovski in the second. But an old-fashioned scrumfest around the Panthers crease at 14:25 led to coincidental penalties including minors for Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas, while Cal Clutterbuck -- whose presence near Luongo started the whole thing -- escaped like Eddie Haskell. Things remained tense and chippy after that.
Too Many Men, Too Little Magic
With 1:25 remaining in regulation came a golden opportunity for the Islanders to win in regulation or overtime, but they blew it and then some. The Panthers were angry about the too many men call after they'd blown what should have been a regulation game. Replays showed it was a deserved call, however, an infraction that couldn't be overlooked.
Still, their penalty kill came out like the game was on the line (which, memo to the Isles power play unit: It was) and killed it off, creating the space for a win in extra time. After creating a few chances during those first 85 seconds, the Isles power play somehow looked much worse when overtime began and by rule the 5-on-4 advantage converted to 4-on-3. Maddeningly, they almost gave up the game when Kyle Okposo passed into a shinguard as the penalty expired, creating a breakaway for Connor Brickley out of the penalty box.
Brickley was stopped by Halak, who was called on to make several more saves as the Isles' unsuccessful four-man power play unit got hemmed it its own zone with things at 4-on-4.
It wasn't until 59 seconds remained in overtime that the extra frame saw a whistle, and 3-on-3 play was initiated the way by the NHL lords of 2015-16 intended.
The Panthers had the better of play there, requiring more work of Halak, who was brilliant throughout OT.
However, the clock must have struck midnight and the prince turned back into a frog, or something turned into a pumpkin, or however all of those go, because Halak was five-holed and Forsberg'd and everything else during the shootout. So was Luongo -- Okposo's conversion was a hilarious surprise shot before Luongo was set, Nielsen's was a lightning-fast Backhand of Judgment -- until Nelson became the first one to not beat the goalie in the trickshot drill.
Which is probably as shootout gods would have it: There was no slow-motion trickery to Nelson's attempt, just a straight-up breakaway play. Luongo is one of the all-time best at stopping those.
Shootouts!!!!! pic.twitter.com/YTD01nTcWm— Strombone (@strombone1) November 28, 2015