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Florida Panthers Notebook: Usually Good in the Third ... Bryan McCabe 'Unsportsmanlike' ... Rostislav Olesz Hurt ... Isles Up Next

Islandergirl1 UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The Panthers trailed Boston 1-0 going into the third period on Thursday and as the game went on, it didn't look like things were going to change.

On one hand, the Panthers didn't look like they were going to score on goalie Tuukka Rask no matter how many shots they took. On the other, Florida's defense in the third has been terrific this season. The Panthers offense stuck to the script as Rask made 12 saves in the third to help secure his first shutout of the season.

The Panthers defense had a rare lapse, however, as the Bruins three within the final six minutes.

Before that, the Panthers had only given up 11 third period goals all season. While Florida has been good at holding leads, they have not done well coming back from deficits. The Panthers are 7-0 when leading going into a third period; 0-6 when trailing at that point.

The comeback problem is part of a bigger offensive concern, making the team's defensive stands so important. The Panthers struggled holding the fort in past years and have lost points with blown leads. That hasn't been the case this year.

The additions of defensive-minded veterans like Dennis Wideman, Mike Weaver and Marty Reasoner have definitely helped when it comes time to holding teams off. Those three saw plenty of time in the third period of Wednesday's win in Atlanta when the hard-charging Thrashers outshot Florida 18-3 in the final 20 minutes but failed to score the equalizing goal.

“We've done it different ways. Obviously, Vokoun was our best player in the third in Atlanta,'' coach Pete DeBoer said. “Against Minnesota, we just shut things down as far as chances went. It's a good group. They're mobile, smart and have a composure as a group to make plays back there. They're not big name defenseman and not the most talented guys in the league, but they have characteristics that have helped us create an identity as a team.''

Water WATER FIGHT

In the second period of Thursday's loss, there was some commotion down on the ice and Bryan McCabe ended up in the box for 'unsportsmanlike conduct.'

According to DeBoer, there was an unruly fan behind the Panthers bench. DeBoer says an official says he saw a Panthers player use a water bottle to squirt the fan – who was removed by security – although the referee wasn't sure it was McCabe who did so. Regardless, the Panthers killed off the penalty and no further action is expected.

“That was our grassy knoll,'' DeBoer joked. “I don't think we're going to see anything else come of this. We were penalized more than enough as it was. The water hit the glass. No damage done.''

Mash1 -- DeBoer says there could be a player called up from the team's AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., for Saturday's game. Rostislav Olesz is out with a broken finger suffered Thursday and DeBoer says there are other players suffering minor, unspecified maladies. Darcy Hordichuk has a nasty black eye and required stitches after fighting in the first period Thursday.

LOST FISHERMEN

The Islanders got off to a surprising start this season, winning four of their first seven games. But since being beaten by the Panthers 4-3 in Sunrise on Oct. 23, things haven't been the same. The Islanders were riding a three-game winning streak when they came to South Florida; they've now since lost 11 straight – gaining just one point in the standings.

Islesfisher The team fired coach Scott Gordon on Monday, promoting Jack Capuano from the minor leagues. Capuano and DeBoer played together in the IHL with the Milwaukee Admirals.

“We have to establish that swagger we had earlier in the season," general manager and former Islanders goalie Garth Snow told reporters when making the coaching change.

-- During the 11-game losing streak, the Islanders (0-10-1) have been outscored 43-16. The Islanders have been outscored 25-8 this month alone.

SATURDAY: PANTHERS AT ISLANDERS
When/Where: 7 p.m.; Nassau Veterans Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.
TV/Radio: No Local TV; 560-WQAM
The series: Panthers lead 35-28-8
The game: The Panthers will start Tomas Vokoun in net for the third straight game. Vokoun made 30 saves against the Islanders in his previous start against them and is 13-4-1 against them lifetime with a 1.91 GAA and 94 percent save rate. The Islanders will likely start Dwayne Roloson, who has lost eight straight. Rick DiPietro hasn't played since Nov. 3. This marks the end of Florida's four-game road trip. The Panthers are 1-2-0 and continue to remain being the only team in the NHL that hasn't played an overtime game this season.

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