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Panthers live another day, beat Islanders in elimination Game 3



islanders panthers game 4

There was nothing artistic about the Florida Panthers 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders in Game 3 on Wednesday but it was good enough to do the trick.

The Panthers played a mostly-patient game and finally found success against an Islanders team which had owned Florida both in the regular season and in this best-of-five Stanley Cup playoff qualifying series.

Florida will face a second elimination game Friday in Game 4 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The Islanders now lead the series 2-1. The NHL will announce the start time later.

Tied 1-1 going into the third period, the Panthers got an early power play and took the lead back on a Mike Hoffman goal. A little over two minutes later, Brian Boyle made it 3-1.

For the second consecutive game, the Panthers took the initial lead as Erik Haula scored on a power play chance after a scoreless first period.

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Hoffman got the sequence going as his big shot came off goalie Semyon Varlamov with Evgenii Dadonov quickly pulling it in and finding Haula in the left circle 4:02 into the period.

It was Haula’s first goal since being acquired by Florida in the Vincent Trocheck deal with the Hurricanes.

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The Panthers had a rare defensive lapse later in the period, failing to get back after Anthony Beauvillier sent the puck in deep and then chased down the big bounce off the boards.

Beauvillier pulled around, slid a pass to J-G Pageau who whipped a shot from the right circle past Sergei Bobrovsky with 3:34 left in the second to make it 1-1.

The two teams went into the third tied at 1 but the Panthers’ power play got an early go after Varlamov was hit with a delay call for playing the puck outside of the trapezoid.

Florida kept the puck in the offensive zone the entire time it was with the advantage and made it 2-1 when Hoffman let one fly from the right circle just 41 seconds into the third.

Just moments later, Boyle charged in through the slot and fired one past Varlamov to make it 3-1 at 2:50 of the period.

That gave the Panthers two goals within a span of 2:07 in the period and was the first time in seven games against the Islanders this season they were able to score more than two goals.

Boyle, who scored for the first time since Jan. 16 against the Kings, also gave Florida its first two-goal lead on the Islanders this season.

In net, Bobrovsky was strong once more, stopping 20 shots as he got his first postseason victory since last spring while with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

New York made it a one-goal game with 1:27 left as a shot went off the skate of Aaron Ekblad while the Isles’ net was empty.

The Panthers started Game 3 with a different looking lineup as coach Joel Quenneville scratched Mike Matheson, Frank Vatrano and Colton Sceviour. 

Into the lineup went Josh Brown, Dryden Hunt and Lucas Wallmark. 

More on Wednesday’s game — and a look-ahead to Game 4 — later today. We will also have a new podcast later this evening with some special guests I do believe you will enjoy.

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