ELMONT, N.Y. — While the New York Islanders were eliminated from playoff contention earlier in the week, the Florida Panthers expected a chippy game in their first trip to UBS Arena.
“They always play tough at home,” Patric Hornqvist said before the game. “There is not going to be a lot of ice out there and it’s going to be a grind.”
The Islanders definitely ground things down as goalie Ilya Sorokin stopping one shot after another.
He couldn’t stop Sasha Barkov, however, as the Florida captain recorded a hat trick and scored the game-winner early in overtime as the Panthers ran their winning streak to 11 with a 3-2 win.
Sorokin ended with 39 saves — but Barkov was able to tie the score at 2 with 3:58 remaining before winning it 20 seconds into overtime.
Jonathan Huberdeau, part of a new-look top line along with Barkov and Claude Giroux, assisted on all three of those goals.
Florida, now with 116 points, are all but assured home ice throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Panthers also tied Colorado for most points in the entire league as they continue their chase for the Presidents’ Trophy.
From the start, it appeared the Panthers were up to the task against the defensive-minded Islanders.
By the 6:41 mark of the first period, the Panthers led 5-0 in shots and 6-0 in scoring chances as they held the Islanders to the perimeter and shut down any and all scoring chances.
The momentum switched when Sergei Bobrovsky took a tripping penalty 12:58 into the first period.
Despite not registering a shot on that power play, the Islanders were able to establish offensive zone time and ended the first period up 13-11 in scoring chances.
Florida got a power play of their own with 4:17 to go in the second period after Matt Martin laid a late hit on Gus Forsling, but they failed to register a shot on the man advantage.
Forsling was slow to get up following the hit, but he remained in the game.
The Panthers took control early in the second period, leading 4-0 in shots.
The momentum quickly changed after Giroux hooked Sebastian Aho just over 4:30 into the second period.
On the delayed penalty, Andy Greene found Aho, who fired off a wrist shot that beat Bobrovsky 4:56 into the first period on New York’s first shot of the second period.
The Panthers picked up where they left off after the goal, leading 12-3 in scoring chances during the first 15 minutes of the second period.
They just could not break through against Sorokin, who stopped all 23 shots he faced up to that point.
Florida got its second chance on the power play with 7:19 to go in the second period after Mason Marchment was cross-checked by Andy Greene — and they took advantage of it this time.
With 5:48 to go in the period, Barkov unloaded a wrist shot from the high slot that beat Sorokin to tie up the game with his 35th goal of the season.
Despite missing 13 games this season, that tally tied his career-high from 2018-19.
The Panthers went back to the power play with 2:44 to go in the second period after Sam Bennett drew a high-sticking penalty from Mathew Barzal.
Florida’s second unit got significant ice time during that man advantage and created a few chances, but Sorokin held strong as the Islanders killed off the penalty.
The two sides headed into the second intermission even at 1-1 with the Panthers holding a 28-17 advantage on the shot clock.
The Panthers found themselves on the penalty kill 55 seconds into the third period after MacKenzie Weegar took a delay of game penalty.
The Islanders made them pay instantly.
Off the ensuing face-off, Mat Barzal found Jean-Gabriel Pageau with a cross-crease pass, who fired it past Bobrovsky to give New York the 2-1 lead.
After back-and-forth play following the goal, the Panthers got their fourth shot at the power play after Anton Lundell got tripped up by Zach Parise with 9:46 to go.
Florida was able to establish offensive zone possession on the power play, notching two shots, but Sorokin stood strong as they fell to 1-4 on the man advantage.
The Panthers got another power play chance late but Weegar was called for a high-stick just 14 seconds into it.
Weegar was obviously upset with the borderline call, slamming his stick into the glass at the penalty box and barking at the official who gave him the heave-ho for the rest of the night.
The power play chance went to a 4-on-4 — with Barkov tying the score with 3:58 remaining.
Barkov, now with a career-high 37 goals despite missing 14 games earlier in the season, ended it with a pretty drive-and-dump shot on the first shift of overtime.
COLBY’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Sasha Barkov, Florida
2. Ilya Sorokin, Islanders
3. Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
DETROIT RED WINGS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: ESPN+/Hulu
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, SiriusXM
- 2021 regular season series: Florida won 6-2
- Season Series — Florida leads 3-0: Florida 3, @Detroit 2 (Oct. 29); @Florida 6, Detroit 2(March 5); Florida 6, @Detroit 1 (April 17)
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 32-19-6, 5 ties