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Back(ed) In: New York Islanders 3, Florida Panthers 2

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SUNRISE — On a night the Florida Panthers celebrated the 2010s on the final Decades Night, they all but clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs despite a loss to the New York Islanders.

Many of those teams from the 2010s would have taken a postseason berth any way they could.

Florida will be in the playoffs for the fourth straight year, something we already knew, but with the Detroit Red Wings losing big to Carolina on Thursday, Florida’s 3-2 loss to the Islanders does not mean much.

At least when it comes to claiming a spot in the playoffs — which start in just over three weeks on April 20.

Florida has lost six of the past seven (1-5-1) but remain two points back of the Boston Bruins for the top slot in the Atlantic Division with nine games left.

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The Panthers held leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but consecutive goals to close the second period for the Islanders did Florida in.

Florida would have clinched a spot in the playoffs with a win — or a Detroit loss in regulation. At the time Florida’s game ended, Carolina was leading 4-0 late in the third.

The Red Wings ended up losing by that score.

GOALS OF THE GAME

  • Panthers 1, Islanders 0 (8:13, 1st): Vladimir Tarasenko wings one from the right circle with Sasha Barkov in front of the net — only the puck hits Jean-Gabriel Pageau on its way past Semyon Varlamov.
  • Islanders 1, Panthers 1 (13:20, 1st): Ryan Pulock had a goal taken away from video review earlier, but this one counts as he gets a pass from Pageau from the end boards and rips a wrist shot with no one around him.
  • Panthers 2, Islanders 1 (6:32, 2nd): Barkov drove to the net and was the recipient of a nice pass from Sam Reinhart. It was Barkov’s 700th NHL point.
  • Islanders 2, Panthers 2 (8:43, 2nd): Mathew Barzal deflects a shot from Noah Dobson and past Anthony Stolarz.
  • Islanders 3, Panthers 2 (10:42, 2nd): A controversial goal as Sam Bennett gets tripped up by Casey Cizikas in front of the Florida net leaving a loose puck a downed Stolarz could not get to off a Pageau shot. Florida challenged but this goalie-interference claim was denied and the Islanders lead for the first time.

FHN’S 3 STARS OF THE GAME

1. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Islanders

2. Semyon Varlamov, Islanders

3. Sasha Barkov, Panthers

ON DECK

DETROIT RED WINGS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

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Duke del Valle

Listened to the game on the radio. Late day in the office. The radio team usually isn’t too critical of the officials — but were repeatedly non-plussed during the night.

That said, the Panthers were floundering around for chunks of the game tonight — and blew another opportunity to bag 2.

This blowing leads thing is getting old. Fast.

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