NEW YORK (AP) — Jason Demers scored the tiebreaking goal early in the second period, Roberto Luongo stopped 29 shots and the Florida Panthers held on for a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night.
Keith Yandle also scored for Florida, which won for the fourth time in six games.
Nick Leddy had the Islanders’ goal and Thomas Greiss finished with 22 saves. New York, in the midst of a stretch of seven of eight on the road, lost for the fourth time in five games (1-2-2). The Islanders have managed just one goal in each of their last three games.
The Panthers made their first visit to Brooklyn since losing to the Islanders in the second overtime of the series-clinching Game 6 of the first round of the playoffs last April 24. Florida won the teams’ first meeting this season, 3-2 in overtime at home on Nov. 12.
The 37-year-old Luongo, who was drafted by the Islanders fourth overall in 1997 and spent part of the 1999-2000 season in New York, improved to 12-11-3 against his former team.
He was tested several times in the third period as New York had a 12-1 advantage on shots. He stopped Islanders captain John Tavares on a wraparound attempt just past the midpoint of the period, and then Tavares and Anders Lee both jabbed at the puck from in close but couldn’t poke it in.
Luongo stopped three rapid tries by Casey Cizikas with about 6 minutes to go, and then the two were involved in some shoving after Cizikas knocked the goalie’s helmet off and both received roughing penalties.
Florida outshot New York 16-6 in a brisk-paced second period and took a 2-1 lead 1:09 into the period. Off a faceoff in the offensive zone, the puck came to Jonathan Marchessault above the left circle and he passed to the right to Demers, who snapped it past Greiss from the right circle for his eighth. Marchessault’s assist was his sixth point in the last eight games.
Florida got on the scoreboard first as Yandle pounced on a rebound and fired a slap shot from the left faceoff circle past Greiss for his third of the season at 5:47 of the first.
Leddy tied it for the Islanders with 9:13 remaining in the opening period with a wrist shot from the left slot past Luongo on the glove side for his sixth.
Tavares, set to make his fourth straight All-Star appearance as the Islanders’ lone selection, was down briefly after getting hit on the leg by the puck on a shot by Johnny Boychuck later in the first.
NOTES: The Panthers improved to 8-6-7 since general manager Tom Rowe fired former coach Gerard Gallant on Nov. 27 and replaced him behind the bench. Florida was 11-10-1 under Gallant, a finalist for the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year last season. … The Panthers improved to 13-5-4 when scoring first and 13-1-3 when leading after two periods. … The Islanders honored long-time play-by-play announcer Jiggs McDonald with a video tribute during a pregame ceremony. He was presented with a bronze microphone and team jersey. He received an ovation from the crowd and also dropped the ceremonial first puck. McDonald, who was the Islanders’ main announcer for 15 years and has also worked on some of the team’s broadcasts the last 11 years, has called NHL games since 1967. … The Islanders were without D Travis Hamonic due to a lower body injury sustained in the 2-1 shootout loss at Arizona on Saturday. Adam Pelech, called up from Bridgeport last week, skated with Leddy. … The Islanders fell to 4-12-3 when giving up the first goal and 0-10-1 when trailing after two periods.
Panthers: Host the Islanders on Friday night to complete the home-and-home set and open a back-to-back with Columbus coming in Saturday night.
Islanders: At Florida on Friday night in the opener of a three-game, four-day road trip.
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