Semyon Varlamov earned his first win as an Islander the hard way, while the Islanders got a much-needed second victory to calm their early season anxiety.
Both the Isles and Florida Panthers sought their second victory of the young season, and both were coming in on the second half of a back-to-back. The Islanders had a more reassuring effort, though after entering the third period with a 2-1 lead they let the Panthers dictate play and force overtime.
Points for everyone, both sides being in need.
Overtime wasn’t enough, but Varlamov stopped all three Panthers shootout shooters to give the Isles the second standings point and a 3-2 win.
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These were your initial lines, as Casey Cizikas was out injured again, while Matt Martin and Noah Dobson were seated for Ross Johnston and Nick Leddy, respectively:
That fourth line was used very sparingly, and was on the ice for the Panthers’ slightly fortunate goal to open scoring at 5:34, but Ross Johnston also had the pleasure of being on the ice for a sweet Anders Lee tying goal set up by Mathew Barzal.
Johnson also added a third-period fight that he won pretty convincingly against Josh Brown, who was standing up after teammate Noel Acciari took a hard hit from Johnston. The Isles giant logged seven minutes, Tom Kuhnhackl eight, and Leo Komarov — who took his first untimely penalty of the season in the third — nine.
The Panthers started Izzy Mandelbaum in goal, determined to prove the Islanders are not better than him.
First Period: This is Marginally Better
After a disappointing and still-disjointed performance in their “must-win” visit to Raleigh the previous night, Saturday night at home they seemed to come out with a more unified sense of purpose, and the ability (or the opponent) to make it pay.
They gave up the first goal but it was on something of a broken play, a Panthers counterattack that required a helpful bounce off Evgeni Dadanov’s chest, then a great recovery and setup from Dadanov for David Malgin to one-time over Semyon Varlamov’s shoulder.
Though they didn’t manage a goal in the first, it felt like things were trending the right way despite the 1-0 deficit.
Second Period: That’s more like it
Indeed, the second period was even better — both by performance and result.
As mentioned, Lee’s snapshot got them on the board at 5:40 after some great patience and vision from Barzal behind the net.
Aidan Slattery is back in the barn with @Shannon_Hogan after a heart transplant just 3 months ago and his request for a @leeberr09 goal was fulfilled #Isles | @NYIslanders pic.twitter.com/C9oGjWIZTn— Isles on MSG+ (@IslesMSGN) October 13, 2019
The Isles also survived a Too Many Men call that wiped out the second half of an Islanders power play, plus a Michael Dal Colle hooking call before the midpoint.
Josh Bailey, he of 800 games and counting, put them ahead 2-1 on one of the more electric plays of the night. Adam Pelech fueled the transition, Jordan Eberle made a good pull-up after gaining the zone to find Bailey rushing cross-ice, and Bailey snapped his shot top corner past Mandelbaum, I mean Sam Montembeault.
Josh Bailey doing a little shopping in the TOY DEPARTMENT. pic.twitter.com/rUpVwQDp5u— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) October 13, 2019
One of their better periods of the year. Lot of traffic in front of the net. Varlamov has been strong, too.— Carey Haber (@habermetrics) October 13, 2019
5v5 Score Adjusted After 2
Panthers 53.03% Attempts
Isles 68.94% High Danger (7.32 - 3.30)
Panthers 50.69% xGF (1.19 - 1.16) pic.twitter.com/GFCmuOkFGH
Third Period: That is not like it, no not at all
Maybe this was to be expected somewhat given the usual push and pull of an NHL game, but the third period represented a step back for the Islanders.
Instead of taking their gains and finishing the game, Trotz Lockdown-style, the Islanders were thoroughly outplayed by Florida in the third frame. Just when you started to think they might survive anyway as the clock approached six minutes to go, Dadanov got the equalizer for Florida.
One of the most curious moments of the period came when the Isles still had the lead and pushed for an insurance goal with a Barzal and Devon Toews two-on-one. In an almost unheard of mistake during the Video Review Era, the linesman incorrectly whistled offside as the two speedsters crossed the line.
No knowing what could have been, but that one was a headscratcher.
The Islanders had the puck for the first half of overtime — literally. An opening faceoff and a draw following a Panthers icing were both followed by Islanders controlling the puck, but not finding the prime shooting openings they were looking for. One exception was a Lee one-timer, alas his stick broke on the ultimately harmless shot.
Barzal had several orbital rushes, and a few shimmy moves to the interior, but neither approach produced real chances. The Islanders at least did well to pick off several neutral zone volleys that would have led to Panthers breakaways.
The Islanders elected to shoot first, and Brock Nelson got them on the board right away with a quick move and forehand inside the post. He was the only shooter to convert for either team.
#BROCKTOBER in full swing pic.twitter.com/zRhca4dUt3— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) October 13, 2019
Aleksander Barkov was tricky but stopped by Varlamov. Barzal went in slow and did not fool Montembeault, and Josh Bailey did a modified Forsberg one-hand backhand that the Panthers goalie also stopped.
That left it to Varlamov to finish it by making a third shootout save, and he outwaited Jonathan Huberdeau’s slow backhand deke to get his first win as an Islander.
The Islanders host the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues on Monday afternoon, also at Nassau Coliseum. On an 11-day trip, the Blues are coming off their first regulation loss of the season Saturday night in Montreal.