Brock Nelson scored in regulation and had the only goal in four rounds of a shootout as the New York Islanders defeated the Florida Panthers 2-1 on Thursday night in Sunrise, Fla. Thomas Greiss stopped 29 shots through regulation and overtime and was brilliant in the shootout to earn the win.
The Islanders already have clinched their first playoff berth since 2016. With one game left in the regular season, they need just one more point or a Pittsburgh Penguins loss to assure themselves of home ice in the first round of the postseason. Jonathan Huberdeau scored for Florida, becoming the fourth player in franchise history to reach 90 points.
Florida's rookie goalie, Sam Montembeault, making his 10th NHL start, produced 35 saves and also got the first assist of his career. In the shootout, the first three Islanders failed against him before Nelson slipped the puck past him. The Islanders stopped Florida's three-game winning streak. The Panthers, who were eliminated from playoff contention last week, had outscored opponents 14-6 during their streak.
New York's defense kept the Panthers -- who have one game left in their season -- from reaching a couple of individual milestones. Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov -- one of the best two-way centers in the NHL -- still needs one more point to break the franchise single-season record. Barkov currently shares the mark with Pavel Bure, who reached 94 points in 1999-2000.
Barkov and Huberdeau rank as the first two Panthers teammates to reach 90 points in the same season. Panthers winger Mike Hoffman is one point away from 300 for his career.
The teams played a scoreless first period even though the horn signaling a goal went off just as time expired for the first 20 minutes. But instead of a goal for Florida's Evgenii Dadonov, it was waved off as the puck never completely crossed the line. Instead, it was New York that scored first as Nelson's one-timer from the right circle gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead with 1:50 expired in the second period. Michael Dal Colle earned the primary assist with his cross-ice pass.
New York killed off a Thomas Hickey hooking penalty in the second but didn't get away with a tripping call against the same player in the third. This time, Huberdeau made the Islanders pay, beating Greiss with a shot that barely squirted through the five-hole with 7:15 left in regulation. --Field Level Media
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