Five takeaways from the Panthers’ 3-0 win over the New York Islanders at Barclays Center on Monday night.
1. James Reimer reigns supreme over Islanders.
The Islanders might be out of the playoff hunt, but they are a team that can put up goals, but Reimer was having none of that on Monday night, making 31 saves in his fourth shutout of the season.
The Panthers goaltender has been hot recently, picking up his fifth consecutive win and posting a 1.00 goals-against average in that span. Reimer also has a .970 save percentage during that span.
“He’s been amazing,” Panthers head coach Bob Boughner said. “This is a part of the season you need guys stepping up. He’s been one of our guys that has stepped up for us.”
Reimer’s four shutouts this year matches a single-season career high and comes at a crucial time with the Panthers fighting for a playoff spot. On Monday night, Reimer made the tough saves look easy at times.
He robbed Josh Bailey in the second period with an impressive glove save and showed off his lateral movement several times to keep the Islanders off the scoreboard.
“For me I just tried to be big in there. Try and read the puck as best I could and be on it,” Reimer said.
2. Special teams came up big when needed.
The Panthers and Islanders combined for 20 penalty minutes — most of which occurred in the second period — and Florida managed its opponent well whether on the power play or penalty kill.
The penalty kill was perfect against an Islanders power-play unit that had scored nine goals in its last five games on the man-advantage. And the Panthers took advantage of a power-play chance in the second period to cushion their lead.
“In those games you rely on your guys on the power play,” Boughner said. “It was nice to see our second unit get out there and get us a goal we needed. I thought we had a better shooting mentality tonight. I think we had 14 power-play shots. Much better from what we talked about this morning.”
Florida had scored a power-play goal in Saturday’s win over the Arizona Coyotes, but prior to that had gone four games without a goal on the man advantage.
3. Panthers remain calm
The game started to take a physical turn as the game progressed and the Panthers’ opponent became increasingly frustrated.
However, even as that frustration on the Islanders’ part began to boil over Florida wasn’t knocked off their game. They even earned several power-play chances out of it when Anthony Beauvillier was too aggressive with a hit on Michael Haley at 9:45 of the second period and John Tavares tried to rough up a few Panthers moments later as called for a roughing penalty.
“We’ve all been there at some point where things haven’t gone well, and it’s easy for frustration to set in,” Boughner said. “I understand. Our message to our guys was lets keep the game 5-on-5. We want to make sure these points are important. We don’t want to keep going to the box. They did a good job of that.”
4. Dadonov keeps producing
The Russian forward kept his hot streak going and left Brooklyn with 21 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in his last 17 games.
Dadonov picked up his first point of the night on an assist on Keith Yandle’s goal in the first period. His second point came on a fluky play where Dadonov tried to center the puck, but had his pass deflect off the skate of an Islander defenseman and into the net.
“I don’t worry about my game right now. All I care about is the team winning,” Dadonov said.
5. Panthers take advantage of Devils’ off night
Monday’s win pulled the Panthers to within a point of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference on a night that the team they were trying to catch was not in action.
The Panthers have a game in hand over the New Jersey Devils and began a road trip that will head to Toronto, Ottawa and Boston. With wins and points so crucial and this point in the season, the Panthers seemed well aware of how important it was to pick up a win on Monday.
“For us we just have to control what we can do and play well,” Yandle said. “I don’t think we can do too much scoreboard-watching, but when we play we have to play hard.”
Nick Bjugstad added: “Guys are definitely realizing how important these games are and a lot of guys are stepping up to the plate.”