Buzzing on Yahoo Sports:

Panthers shut down Tavares, top Islanders

The SportsXchange

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Stop center center John Tavares and you beat the New York Islanders.

That was the Florida Panthers' formula Tuesday night as they used a three-goal first period to cool off the red-hot Islanders 4-2 at the BB&T Center.

Tavares entered the game tied for second in the league in scoring and was the NHL's first star last week with four goals and six assists.

But Tuesday, he was held without a point, taking five shots in 25 minutes.

Panthers right winger Scottie Upshall gave much of the credit to his goaltender Tim Thomas (12-11-3), who finished with 31 saves.

"Timmy has been doing everything we need him to do and more," Upshall said. "(The Islanders) got at least 12 point-blank shots with rebounds, and Timmy smothered them."

Islanders left winger Tomas Vanek also credited Thomas.

"As a team, I thought we generated the most chances we've had in a while," said Vanek, who scored his 16th goal of the season in the third period. "Part of it was good goaltending, but we need to convert our chances."

The Islanders, who won each of their previous four games, fell one victory short of what would have been their longest winning streak since 2008. They also won seven straight road games, one short of tying the franchise record set in 1980-81.

Islanders goalie Kevin Poulin (9-13-0) made 22 saves, but had his five-game winning streak snapped.

"They had some good quality chances," Poulin said. "They worked hard and went to the net. It was not an easy game for us."

Florida defenseman and team captain Ed Jovanovski, playing just his fifth game this season since returning from a serious hip injury, ended a point drought with two assists. He recorded his first points since he got an assist Jan. 26, 2013.

Florida opened the scoring 32 seconds into the game. Right winger Brad Boyes -- who played on Tavares' line last season -- and rookie center Aleksander Barkov, traded three passes back and forth before Barkov notched his eighth goal of the season.

The Panthers then efficiently killed off a two-minute penalty on center Jonathan Huberdeau, yielding no real scoring threats. And as soon as Huberdeau came out of the penalty box, the Panthers sprung him on a breakaway chance against Poulin, who made a terrific pad save.

New York again escaped trouble just a couple minutes later when the Panthers had a five-on-three power play for 1:13 but could not score.

With 4:26 left in the first period, the Panthers went ahead 2-0 on the first goal of the season by center Drew Shore. His shot was blocked by Poulin and then bounced in of the skate of Islanders defenseman Brian Strait.

With just 35.6 seconds left in the first period, the Panthers made it 3-0 as center Nick Bjugstad took advantage of an Islanders turnover and went in alone on Poulin. Bjugstad scored a split second before he leaped over Poulin and crashed into the cage.

The Panthers made it 4-0 with 4:01 left in the second period when right winger Scottie Upshall scored on a short-handed breakaway, beating Poulin stick side. Before Upshall's slick move, all six of his goals this season came in November.

New York finally scored with 30.2 seconds left in the second period. Left winger Matt Martin dug out a puck behind the net and fed right winger Colin McDonald in front to make the score 4-1.

The Islanders sliced the margin to 4-2 in similar fashion at 2:38 of the third period. Center Frans Nielsen skated past the net before passing back to Vanek, who did not miss from close range.

But Thomas allowed nothing further.

"It is rare in the NHL to have that (three-goal) cushion," Thomas said of the big first period. "But it's a challenge, too, because you don't want to let them back into it. They were right on the brink of coming back if they get that third goal."

With the win, the Panthers tied the Islanders with 43 points, good for next-to-last place in the Eastern Conference. Both teams are back in action Thursday, the Panthers home against the San Jose Sharks, the Islanders at the Tampa Bay Lightning.

NOTES: The Panthers announced Tuesday that they will host the 2015 NHL Draft at the BB&T Center. The only other time the Panthers hosted the draft was in 2001. ... Florida has two Olympians -- RW Tomas Kopecky (Slovakia) and C Aleksander Barkov (Finland). ... The Islanders on Saturday became just the sixth NHL team to win five straight road games in which they trailed each time. ... The Panthers expect C Jesse Winchester (hand injury) and D Dylan Olsen (lower body) to practice this week and could return to the lineup next week. D Matt Gilroy (lower body) and D Alex Petrovic (upper body) are also out. ... Islanders G Evgeni Nabokov (quad) has resumed practicing and is nearing a return. D Radek Martinek (back spasms) and D Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) are also out. ... Scratches for the Panthers: D Mike Mottau, C Scott Gomez and RW Jimmy Hayes. ... Scratches for the Islanders: LW Eric Boulton, C Peter Regin and D Travis Hamonic.
Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Football
View Comments (1)