Things really get interesting for the Panthers now.
Tied 2-2 in their best-of-7 series with the Islanders, the Panthers would move on to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs with two wins, as two of the next three games in the series are on home ice in Sunrise.
Friday’s Game 5 of the close series — all four games have been decided by a single goal (save for Florida’s late empty net goal in its Game 2 victory) — is 8 p.m. at BB&T Center.
Neither New York nor the Panthers have won consecutive games in the series.
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“It’s great to be at home, but as you have seen, nothing is guaranteed,’’ Jaromir Jagr said.
“Every game has been so close. For four or five minutes one team looks like they have a great advantage and then momentum changes. This is the playoffs. It’s exciting for the fans.”
The Panthers have been the more-dominant team in the series, although the scores and game results certainly don’t reflect that.
On Sunday, Florida had a 3-1 lead in the second period only to watch the Islanders storm back with a pair of goals to tie it. New York won 4-3 in overtime to take a 2-1 series lead and could have taken control of the series with a win on Wednesday.
Instead, as they have all season, the Panthers bounced back.
“Everybody is going to lose hockey games, but it’s the way you respond after you lose them,” coach Gerard Gallant said.
“I think our team has responded really well all season long. It’s not like it’s a big surprise for us. We had a tough game, lost a real tough game. I knew our team was going to be good [Wednesday].
“I knew we weren’t going to crumble.”
Jagr’s assist on Teddy Purcell’s goal Wednesday not only gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead but was Jagr’s first point of the series.
It was also Jagr’s 200th career postseason point, making him the fifth player (Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson) to hit the mark. Jagr now has 78 goals and 122 assists in 206 playoff games.
Although he’s now gone 35 consecutive playoff games without a goal, Jagr said he’s not sweating it.
“I’ve scored enough goals,” Jagr said Wednesday night. “If I don’t score any ever, I’ll be happy with my hockey career. I don’t worry about it.”
Said Sasha Barkov: “He’s capable of doing anything. He’s a great player, is smart, protects the puck and has a great shot. He’’s just a great player.”
▪ Gallant said Thursday that defenseman Steven Kampfer has been cleared for Game 5. It appears Kampfer would have been Florida’s late defensive addition for Wednesday, but his injured ankle wasn’t quite ready.
The Panthers scrambled after warmups when an unidentified defenseman was struck by a puck during warmups.
Jakub Kindl, scratched since Game 1, didn’t warmup but quickly suited up and was inserted into the lineup as a precaution. Kindl wasn’t needed and didn’t play a single shift.
With Greg McKegg scratched, the Panthers slid Jussi Jokinen over to center for some shifts. Barkov played the most minutes of his young career, logging a game-high 24:10 off 34 shifts.
“It’s not a big deal,” Gallant said of the 20-year-old. “He’s a young kid.”
▪ Vincent Trocheck was spotted leaving the arena Wednesday in a walking boot after skating the past few days. Trocheck has been out the past three weeks after fracturing a bone in his foot. He is not expected to be cleared to play Friday.
▪ Jagr noted defenseman Alex Petrovic has played well at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, from assisting on a goal here March 15 to scoring the game-winner Wednesday.
“This is his arena,” Jagr said. “This is his rink. He should come play here. Maybe he’ll score 50.”
▪ Center Derek MacKenzie dug the puck out along the boards to set up Petrovic, earning his first point of the series as well.
Game 5: Islanders at Panthers
When, where: Friday, 8 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise
Series: Best-of-7; Tied 2-2
TV/Radio: SUN, CNBC; WQAM 560, WAVK 97.7, WFTL 850, WNMA 1210
Regular season series: This year: Florida won 2-1; All-time: Florida leads 43-36-8
Scouting report: The Panthers and Islanders got another strong performance from their goalies in Game 4 as Roberto Luongo stopped 26 shots in Florida’s 2-1 win while Thomas Greiss returned 27. The road win was Luongo’s first since the 2011 Western Conference finals at San Jose.