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The end is here: Panthers’ season comes to close with Game 4 loss to Islanders



islanders panthers game 4

Early in the second period with the Islanders finishing off a power play, Sergei Bobrovsky made three big saves — ones that appeared to have turned Game 4 around for the Florida Panthers.

In the end, however, those saves did nothing more than keep the score where it was.

Right then, anyway.

The Islanders ended up getting a Brock Nelson power play goal at 8:01 of the second for a two-goal lead and New York’s defense did the rest in ending the Panthers’ season with a 5-1 win.

New York now advances to the Stanley Cup playoffs which will begin next week.

The Panthers will leave the Toronto bubble a lot earlier than they hoped and head back to Florida.

The Islanders controlled the flow of this one from the get, keeping the Panthers’ offense out of the zone and taking a 2-0 lead in the first period.

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Midway through the first, Anthony Beauvillier threw a backhanded shot along the goal line which appeared to surprise Sergei Bobrovsky — Beauvillier looked like a guy just trying to get control of the puck — and scored.

Less than four minutes later, Beauvillier and Mathew Barzal charged into the Florida zone on a 2-on-1.

Beauvillier took the feed from his linemate and buried it for a 2-0 lead.

Florida at least salvaged something in a first period of which they were outplayed when Jordan Eberle gave the Panthers’ power play a chance and Mike Hoffman cashed in with his third goal of the season.

The top power play unit did a nice job of working the puck around with Jonathan Huberdeau finding a streaking Hoffman coming in on the right side to make it 2-1 with 1:19 left.

MacKenzie Weegar then took a tripping penalty which bled into the second leading to Bobrovsky’s huge saves — his kick save absolutely robbing Anders Lee of what should have been an easy goal.

Those saves kept the Panthers in it, yet their problems of the first period did not go away.

The Islanders continued to pound away and kept the Panthers from doing anything in the offensive end.

At 8:01 of the second, Nelson whipped a shot with Florida killed a bench penalty for having too many men on the ice and the Panthers now trailed 3-1.

Florida had a few scoring chances in the second, but mostly, another period belonged to the Islanders.

By the end of the second, New York was outshooting the Panthers 31-14 and blocked 19 of their shots.

The Panthers had a number of scoring chances in the third but midway through the period, Barzal got loose on a breakaway, walked in on Bobrovsky and made it 4-1.

And that was that.

Bobrovsky left the net empty with just over four minutes left allowing the Panthers to put a little more pressure on Semyon Varlamov — but it ended with a J-G Pageau goal into the vacated net with 2:43 remaining.

The Islanders ended the day outshooting the Panthers 38-25, blocked 31 shots and were credited with 40 hits.

Coach Joel Quenneville, whose hiring in April signaled the start of a big offseason for the Panthers, ran with the same lineup in Game 4 as he used in Florida’s victorious Game 3.

Sitting, for the second consecutive game, were Mike Matheson, Frank Vatrano and Colton Sceviour.

The good news for the Panthers in the aftermath of this humbling series loss: A 12.5 percent shot at the top pick in the upcoming NHL draft.

If the Panthers can win that lottery and pick up undisputed top draft pick Alexis Lafreniere, well, this may have been worth it.

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