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Florida Panthers Ride High into All-Star Week, Win Fourth Straight



Florida panthers
Oliver Ekman-Larsson celebrates his overtime goal with Evan Rodrigues as the Florida Panthers beat the host New York Islanders 3-2 on Saturday night at Belmont Park. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

The Florida Panthers held a Sunday morning practice at the arena a week ago before flying to Nashville.

The team was celebrating a fathers’ weekend, with Ryan Lomberg noting that he hoped their presence would “help us get over this hump’’ after losing four straight games.

It did the trick.

Not only did the Panthers end their losing skid Monday in Nashville, but Florida closed its week Saturday by beating the New York Islanders 3-2 in overtime for its fourth straight win.

The Panthers have won a franchise-record eight consecutive road games and head into an early spring break on a heater.

Enjoy the week, fellas.

“We have been winning a lot, and that helps, so we know if we stick with it, we are going to have a chance,” said Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who scored 1:57 into overtime Saturday night to beat the Islanders.

“We should be happy with what we have accomplished so far, but we must come out of the break and be ready to work even harder.”

The Panthers had one of those weeks where many things went right.

In Nashville, Florida’s penalty kill bounced back from a disaster against Minnesota for a 4-1 win backstopped by Anthony Stolarz.

On Wednesday, the Panthers returned home for a Fight Night blowout of the Coyotes before hitting the road to close the week.

Friday night, the penalty kill was tested, but the Panthers pulled out a 3-2 shootout win against the Penguins.

That led to a Saturday night pitcher’s duel on Long Island where Florida cracked the ice first midway through the second when Sam Reinhart made franchise history by one-timing a back wall feed from Matthew Tkachuk.

Reinhart’s 20th power-play goal — and 12th since Dec. 23 — passed Pavel Bure and Scott Mellanby for most in a single season.

Reinhart and the Panthers have 33 more games remaining.

“There is a lot of excitement even though this probably was not the prettiest game to watch,” Reinhart said after the win. “There were two teams out there competing and not giving much space. We knew this one was going to come down to the wire.”

Nothing came easy for the Panthers on their final road trip before the All-Star break, and the Islanders would not go away.

Before the second ended, Simon Holmstrom tied the score at 1.

In the third, Mackie Samoskevich drew a penalty — and Tkachuk cashed in by knocking down a Sasha Barkov shot.

The Islanders got themselves a point when with 1:29 remaining, Kyle Palmieri sent the game to overtime by one-timing a slick pass from Noah Dobson.

However, Ekman-Larsson ended it at 1:55 in overtime, as Stolarz made a big save and quickly got the puck out to Evan Rodrigues, who went on a 2-on-1 break with OEL.

Bing, bang, boom.

“It’s tough to go back-to-back,” said Stolarz, who gave up three goals in his two road wins this past week.

“It was a hard-fought game in Pittsburgh, a lot of energy exerted. I thought the defense did a great job letting me see the shots from the point tonight. The Islanders are a very big team and they like to get in front of you, and they did a great job for me.”

The Panthers enter their break second in the Atlantic Division, five points back of Boston for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Florida’s 66 points is tied for fourth-most with Dallas.

Both trail Vancouver and Boston by five.

“You kind of ride the waves in a season,’’ Reinhart said. “Look back a week, and we were on a little skid. We were doing some positive things and were able to stick with it. Getting these points to end January was big for us moving forward, and we want to keep that momentum going.’’

Next up for the Panthers is a week of fun in the sun, as the team will not return to practice until Sunday afternoon.

Reinhart and Sergei Bobrovsky will be excused as those two will have their vacations cut short as they travel to Toronto for All-Star weekend.

Reinhart, making his first appearance in a magical season, seems excited for it.

“This is the first time for me, and I am going to take it all in with family and friends,” Reinhart said.



  • When: Tuesday, Feb. 6, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Season Series — At Florida: Feb. 6; March 7. At Philadelphia: March 24.  
  • Last season: Philadelphia won 2-1
  • All-time regular season series: Philadelphia leads 57-37-6, 7 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Feb. 8 vs. Washington, 7 p.m.

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