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Panthers 3, Islanders 2: Starting to look like a hole

Two power play goals from Lee can’t prevent a weekend sweep.

New York Islanders V Florida Panthers
Scratching away.
Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

The New York Islanders fell behind early in South Florida, twice chipping back to a one-goal deficit but never getting farther than that in a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers.

That makes it a futile, pointless weekend in Florida, swept by the Lightning and Panthers on back-to-back nights. In one bit of bright news, Anders Lee had both goals, both on the power play — moving them up to 3 for 21 on the season — but that only served to take some of the sting off how non-threatening the Isles were at 5-on-5.

The end result stings: 0-for-2 in Florida, three losses in a row, and four of six for a 2-4 record to start the season.

The Isles’ .333 points percentage is last in Metro and 27th overall in the league. The hole they fell into at the start of last season, which they’re desperate to avoid repeating this season, is visible on the horizon.

The remainder of this week’s schedule is Wednesday at home to Smurfs, followed by back-to-back games Friday and Saturday in Carolina and home to the Avalanche.

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Game Notes

  • Lineup shuffle: After Josh Bailey was scratched Saturday, he was back in the lineup (as was Ross Johnston) while Anthony Beauvillier and Nikita Soshnikov came out. “We’re close,” said Lane Lambert when asked about settling on a regular lineup. “We’ve got to lock it down here soon.”
  • Ugly start: The Panthers scored in the opening minute when Adam Pelech was twice unable to clear or outlet from below the goal line. Compounding the pain, Anton Lundell not only stole the puck but he beat Semyon Varlamov from a bad, low angle.
  • When it rains, it pours: Fabled Star Wars character Eetu Luostarinen’s goal to make it 2-0 came when he picked up the rebound of his initial shot that felled Noah Dobson when it ramped up his stick and hit him in the neck.
  • 3-2, 3-2: High-scoring but playoff-disappointing Florida is trying to prove to itself that it can win “grinding” low-scoring games under Paul Maurice. That’s twice now in the opening month that the Islanders have provided the Panthers a feel-good experiment.

It’s still just six games in, so we’re grasping for patterns, weaknesses and potential solutions to problems that may or may not be real. But thus far, the Isles look like a team that can do really cool NHL-level stuff against bad teams but don’t have enough of an edge to put a scare into the good teams.

Not saying that’s how things will turn out, but it would be consistent with the plurality of preseason fears about this roster. Certainly, we are seeing Lambert’s first big test, which will be colored by how the next three games go.