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George on Game 2 — Another loss to Islanders and Panthers’ season over



Islanders Panthers Game 2

English is Sasha Barkov’s third language, so he can be excused for not coming up with the cliches as quickly as others.

Following the Florida Panthers’ 4-2 loss to the New York Islanders in a crucial Game 2 on Tuesday, Barkov said other teams have rallied from being down big in a postseason series.

The Panthers, going into Game 3 on Wednesday at noon, are playing for their season.

One more loss and they are headed home.

“This is a great chance for us,” said Barkov, who gave Florida a 2-1 lead in the second on a power play goal.

“I have seen a lot of teams come back from 3-0, 2-0, 3-1. It’s not over yet, not until the … “

Interrupted Keith Yandle: “Fat lady sings.’’

Barkov, “yeah.”

The Panthers do have a slimmer of life left despite the loss Tuesday only there is no more margin for error.

Now down 2-0, the Panthers will have to have a short memory — only know this thing is done if they don’t come out with a win.

If the Panthers salvage a victory Wednesday, it would play Game 4 on Friday at a time to be determined. That game is now considered an *-if necessary after the Islanders did Florida in once more.

“It is probably the best case, for us, is to be playing back-to-back,” Yandle said of the quick turnaround. “We don’t have to sit on this one for two long.

“We’re going to get back to the hotel, get a meal, go to bed and come back and do it again. It’s one of those games you want to prove yourselves and the quicker you get to do that … we have to be excited and be ready to go.”

Coach Joel Quenneville said it was “likely” that Sergei Bobrovsky would return Wednesday after making 30 saves in the Game 2 loss.

“We have to look ahead and learn from some of the situations we put ourselves in,” Quenneville said. “There are some positives … to extract out of the game today.

“We did what we wanted to do at the beginning of the game. Now, we have to learn to play with some composure at those pivotal moments. … We got a little bit out of sync. … We should all be disappointed. Accepting this is not what we’re all about. We’re ready to do something about it tomorrow.”

Tuesday was a tale of two halves for the Panthers.

They were the aggressors early, leading 1-0 on a Mike Hoffman goal midway through the first only it was a tie game by the time Barkov rifled off a wrist shot from the left circle in the second.

After that, however, the Islanders took control of the play back — and the Panthers helped them down that path.

Not so special: Panthers on the brink, lose Game 2 to Islanders 4-2

Florida took a total of seven penalties (Mike Matheson got hit with a double-minor for a high stick in the first) as the Islanders cashed in on two of their seven power play chances.

In the third, while the Panthers were trying to fight back from a one-goal deficit, Anton Stralman went in for hooking with MacKenzie Weegar taking a slash.

New York scored on the last of its power play chances for the 4-2 final midway through the third.

The Panthers, after attempting 38 shots (19 on goal) in the first two periods, mustered only 16 in the third.

Semyon Varlamov made five saves in the third as Florida had five shots on goal in the final period for the second consecutive game.

“I thought we had a great first period, in the second, they had a little stretch there where they got the momentum and they scored,’’ Quenneville said.

“Barky then scores a huge power play goal and I thought we were in good shape then, we responded well after the goal. Then it seemed we slowed down a bit when they got their power play to make it 2-2. We took some careless penalties that you can’t have.”


Quenneville again shifted some things around and moved Aleksi Saarela (second line) and Brady Keeper into the lineup.

With those moves, Dominic Toninato was out after playing Game 1 and Lucas Wallmark was scratched for the first two games.

Riley Stillman was out in place of Keeper who impressed Quenneville throughout the two-week training camp and in the exhibition last week against Tampa Bay.

Do not be surprised with more moves come Wednesday.

“I thought (Keeper) had a good game today, an excellent game against Tampa and a real good training camp,” Quenneville said. “That’s why he earned a spot.”

— Matheson has now been charged with three penalties (for eight minutes) through the first two games and was credited with four giveaways in Game 2.

— Hoffman gave the Panthers their first lead of the series 11:16 into the game after one of four New York penalties had expired.

The Florida power play did a lot of good things when it had a chance; Florida went 1-3 on the power play with just 2:12.

The problem was spending so much time on the kill. Barkov spent almost as much time killing penalties as he did trying to score on the power play.

“Penalties cost us in this game,” Barkov said. “We can’t take so many as we did, again, today. We have to be better with our sticks; too many tripping and high-sticking in my opinion and it gives them momentum to play on the power play, get their best players on the ice.

“We have to play a lot better. This was not our best game. We have another chance tomorrow.”

— Barkov’s goal was his first of the series and gives him two points in the opening two games. He had the secondary assist on the Huberdeau goal in Game 1.

— Bobrovsky was good in net again Tuesday, making 30 saves as the Islanders took aim 57 times.

Rob Simpson: Don’t blame Bob for Florida Panthers’ loss to Islanders

New York coach Barry Trotz hinted last week that he would likely go with backup Thomas Greiss in the second game of the back-to-back (why not? Greiss owns the Panthers) but Florida appears set to go back to Bobrovsky.

“We will talk about it,” Quenneville said, “but very likely.”


First period — Panthers 1, Islanders 0

Hoffman gave the Panthers their first lead of the series on the tail end of their lone (and abbreviated) power play chance with a strong shot from the top of the left circle.

Florida came at the Islanders strong in the opening period, taking aim at Varlamov 21 times (nine shots were blocked) and getting eight through.

The Panthers had a lot of zone time, a big improvement over Game 1, but only got the one goal.

Florida had a number of early scoring chances highlighted by a point-blank shot from Evgenii Dadonov five minutes in.

Then, Matheson was hit with a double-minor for a high stick leading to what should have been a four-minute kill.

Only Colton Sceviour picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, drove in through traffic and drew a penalty which led to 4-on-4 and, later, 54 seconds of power play time.

Matheson was later called for a trip along the back boards and the Panthers had another good kill despite Aaron Ekblad breaking his stick.

The Islanders (13 shots, 22 attempts) had a big scoring chance in the latter stages of the first as Bobrovsky was forced to make three consecutive saves.

Ekblad, as has and probably will continue to be the case, led all skaters with 8:30 of ice time off 12 shifts. He was on the ice for 3:03 of the Islanders’ 4:54 of power play time.

For the game, Ekblad ended with 25:39 — four seconds more than he played in Game 1.

Second period — Islanders 3, Panthers 2

The Islanders tied the game at 1 on an even-strength goal from Matt Martin but the Panthers quickly countered.

Dadonov drew a penalty at 7:38 and on the first cycle, Barkov slid over to the left circle (where Huberdeau usually plays on the power play) and sent a heavy wrist shot just below the cross bar for a 2-1 lead.

Ryan Pulock tied it at 2 on a power play chance at 13:48 then Jordan Eberle got his first of two with 3:33 left in the period for the Isles’ first (and final) lead of the day.

The Panthers had a number of good looks at Varlamov in an attempt to tie things going into the third especially on their final power play chance late in the period when Dadonov, Huberdeau and Hoffman sent big shots toward Varlamov.

The threat ended when Huberdeau was called for slashing with Brian Boyle and Scott Mayfield getting into it.

Boyle was sent off for roughing and got a 10-minute misconduct. He played 9:22 on Tuesday.

Third period — Islanders 4, Panthers 2

The only goal of the period only padded the Islanders lead as Eberle got down low and was hit by a Anthony Beauvillier shot that got past Bobrovsky on a power play chance at 10:29.

One of Florida’s biggest scoring chances came while still down a goal as Mark Pysyk and Brett Connolly both had shots stopped.

Down two, the Panthers pulled Bobrovsky with two minutes left but did not offer up much.

Eberle’s Two Goal Effort Leads Islanders to 4-2 Victory in Game 2

Wednesday is now do-it or don’t day for the Panthers who have lost their past six to the Islanders dating to the end of the 2018-19 season.

“We have an opportunity to come back in 24 hours and redeem ourselves,” Hoffman said.


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