In their last visit here in March, the Panthers held a late two-goal lead before watching the Islanders storm back and get the victory.
New York’s comeback from a two-goal deficit Sunday night wasn’t as dramatic but it was much more deflating and damaging to the Panthers, as the Islanders took a 2-1 series lead with their 4-3 overtime victory at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Thomas Hickey scored with 7:29 remaining in the first overtime to finish the Islanders’ second comeback win of the series. The Panthers held three separate one-goal leads in New York’s eventual 5-4 win in Game 1.
The Panthers had held a 3-1 lead (and ever so briefly a 3-0 lead, although that goal was disallowed) in the second, but the Islanders came back with a pair of unanswered goals to force a 3-3 tie heading into the third.
“We have to nip that in the bud,” said Reilly Smith, who gave Florida its third 1-0 lead of the series. “It’s really frustrating. We need to keep the pressure on. There’s not much you can say. They’re a good offensive team and they’re going to get chances.”
After an exciting up-and-back scoreless third, a game went into overtime for the first time in the series and just the second time in this entire postseason.
Chicago and St. Louis went to overtime in the opening game of that series last Wednesday.
This best-of-7 series resumes here Wednesday night at 8.
Florida got off to another good start, as Smith continued his postseason scoring tear by getting his fourth goal of the series off a Alex Petrovic rebound to make it 1-0.
Smith ended up with the primary assist on Florida’s other two goals and has eight points off four goals in three playoff games.
Just 71 seconds into the second period, Sasha Barkov became the first member of Florida’s top line to put a goal in this postseason, as he top-shelfed a rebound off Smith’s shot.
The Panthers had a chance to take complete control of the game with a 3-0 lead after Aaron Ekblad scored just three minutes after Barkov did.
The Islanders challenged the goal, however, and video showed Jonathan Huberdeau was offside and the goal was taken away.
“Our guy said it was offside a little bit,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. “It was real close, but they challenged it and they won. There’s nothing you can do about it.”
That call got the Brooklyn crowd back into it, as did a pair of quick Florida penalties on Petrovic and Jussi Jokinen.
The Islanders had a 5-on-3 advantage and took quick advantage, making it 2-1 on Ryan Pulock’s sharp goal just 14 seconds into the rush.
After killing off the remainder of Jokinen’s penalty, the Panthers got Ekblad’s goal back as Nick Bjugstad punched in a loose puck off Smith’s shot at 7:23 of the period.
It appeared Florida had all the momentum, yet the Islanders — as they did here last month — got it all back.
Following a lengthy possession deep in the zone in which Derek MacKenzie, Teddy Purcell and Brian Campbell couldn’t clear the puck, Shane Prince made it 3-2 midway through the period.
Later on, Frans Nielsen tied it up on the Islanders’ second power-play goal of the night after Dmitry Kulikov was charged with clipping off a hip check.
Both teams had a number of chances to take the lead in the third but failed to do so, as New York’s Brock Nelson failed to take advantage of goalie Roberto Luongo being down on the ice and Jaromir Jagr also shot high on a prime scoring chance.
“I think we lost that game in the second period during that seven-minute span when they got two goals,” Gallant said. “It was a good game, could have gone either way, obviously. I’m sure they’re happy, we’re a little disappointed.”
Both Luongo and Thomas Greiss made seven saves in overtime and went into overtime with 28 saves each.
Said Luongo: “It was a close game, a hard-fought battle that came down to OT. They got a break and they scored. It’s a fine line between winning and losing in this league, especially two evenly matched teams. We were on the wrong end of it.”