NEW YORK (CBSMiami/AP) — Goaltending will be key if the Florida Panthers are going to make a run at the playoffs.
Harri Sateri stopped 32 shots for his first career victory, and the Florida Panthers beat the New York Islanders 4-1 Tuesday night.
Mike Matheson, Evgenii Dadonov, Keith Yandle and Jonathan Huberdeau scored for Florida, which snapped a three-game skid and improved to 3-6-1 since closing December with five straight victories.
Sateri was making his fourth start with Roberto Luongo and James Reimer sidelined by lower-body injuries. The 28-year-old rookie, who spent the previous three seasons in the KHL, made his NHL debut Jan. 2 at Minnesota and came in 0-3-0 with 4.59 goals-against average.
Adam Pelech scored for the Islanders, who have lost four of their last six. Jaroslav Halak, starting for the sixth straight game and 15th in the last 17, finished with 36 saves.
Florida was in control from the start. Yandle increased the lead to 3-0 on a long slap shot from the left point near the blue line at 4:14 of the third period. It was his fifth goal of the season.
Pelech, playing in his 100th career game, ended Sateri’s shutout bid 55 seconds later with his second.
Sateri had to make several nice stops down the stretch to preserve the two-goal lead, including two saves on Anders Lee with about 8 1/2 minutes to go, a wrist shot in front by Brock Nelson 90 seconds later, and a tip by Lee with 6 1/2 minutes left.
Huberdeau then added his 17th with 1:11 remaining. It was his eighth goal and 16th point in the last 14 games.
With Florida leading 1-0, Aaron Ekblad tried to add to the advantage but his wrist shot from between the circles was stopped by Halak 6 1/2 minutes into the middle period.
Sateri then denied a backhand by Lee in front about 90 seconds later, and Halak stopped two attempts by Derek MacKenzie about 30 seconds apart near the midpoint of the period.
Dadonov made it 2-0 with 5:20 left when he scored on a wraparound inside the right post, beating Halak before the goalie could slide to his left to make the stop. It was Dadonov’s fourth goal and ninth point in his last nine games.
Matheson got Florida on the scoreboard 8:57 into the game with a hard wrist shot from the right point that ricocheted off the back of the crossbar and back out for his fifth of the season. The goal light went on but players continued scrambling for the puck for a few seconds before officials stopped play. The score was confirmed after a video review.
NOTES: Former Islanders great John Tonelli took part in the ceremonial puck drop before the game. Tonelli was on the Islanders’ four Stanley Cup championship teams from 1980-83 and had 206 goals and 338 assists in seven seasons in New York. … Former Islanders coach Jack Capuano, now the associate coach under Bob Boughner with the Panthers, returned to Brooklyn for the first time since he was fired Jan. 17, 2017. Capuano spent 6 1/2 seasons as head coach of the Islanders, leading them to their first postseason win since 1993 when they beat Florida in the first round of the 2016 playoffs. He received mild applause when he was announced during a brief tribute on the videoboard during a timeout in the first period. … The Panthers improved to 12-0-0 when leading after two periods. … Islanders C Casey Cizikas was activated off IR and returned after missing six games with an upper-body injury. He was the left wing on the third line with Brock Nelson and Alan Quine. … Islanders captain John Tavares played in his 638th game, tying Derek King for 10th place on franchise list.
Panthers: At Buffalo on Thursday night
Islanders: At Toronto on Wednesday night.
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