The New York Islanders took care of the Florida Panthers, defeating them 3-1 in the Qualifying Round. Throughout the series, the Panthers’ offense did not show up at all, scoring only seven goals in four games. This is a huge difference compared to the Panthers in the regular season as they were a top-five scoring team, but could not find a way to score in the postseason. Another key factor was the poor discipline of the Panthers, committing 16 penalties during the series. The Islanders took advantage of the Panthers’ careless penalties by scoring four important power-play goals.
Game 1: The Panthers’ sloppy play in the beginning of the game allowed the Islanders to control and capitalize. Trade deadline addition Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored in the first. Along with the sloppy play, the Panthers took many penalties and the Islanders took advantage and scored another goal. This time, it was Anthony Beauvillier, extending the lead to 2-0. Early in the third however, Jonathan Huberdeau cut the lead to one with a goal. In the rest of the third period, Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov stood tall in net and the Islanders held on to win 2-1, making the series 1-0.
Game 2: The Panthers started off hot in Game 2 with Mike Hoffman scoring, giving the Panthers their first lead in the series. In the second period, the Islanders got on the board after Matt Martin got the puck past Sergei Bobrovsky to even the game at 1. Less than two minutes later, Alexander Barkov scored a powerplay goal, giving the Panthers their own goal lead back. But late in the second, the Islanders scored two goals, one from Ryan Polock on the power play and one from Jordan Eberle. In the third period, Jordan Eberle added his second goal of the game on the powerplay, giving the Islanders the 4-2 win. The Islanders’ all-around play guided them to victory and gave them a 2-0 series lead against the Panthers.
Game 3: The Islanders were one game away from closing out the series and moving onto the playoffs however the Panthers did not allow it to happen. Erik Haula opened the scoring early in the second period with a power-play goal but Jean-Gabriel Pageau answered back late in the second. At the start of the third period, the Panthers were hot. Mike Hoffman capitalized on the power play with his second goal of the series. Two minutes later, Brian Boyle added to the lead, making the score 3-1. Brock Nelson scored with about a minute left in the game but it was too little too late. The Panthers held on to win 3-2 and made the series 2-1. The victory gave hope to the Panthers offensively and gave them a chance to even the series in Game 4.
Game 4: The Islanders looked to end the series against the Panthers in Game 4. They got off to a hot start with Beauvillier scoring two goals in the span of four minutes. Mike Hoffman answered back late in the first, making the score 2-1. In the second, Brock Nelson extended the lead back to two with a power-play goal. Finally, in the third period, the Islanders secured the win with a goal from Mathew Barzal and an empty-net goal from Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Even though Bobrovsky saved 34 of the 38 shots, the Islanders’ offense was too much for the Panthers. The Islanders won Game 4 by an impressed 5-1 win and will move on to the next round while the Panthers are headed home early.
Player of the series: Anthony Beauvillier – 5 points (3 goals, 2 assists)