ISLANDERS 5, PANTHERS 1
After beating Tampa Bay in a shootout on Saturday, Panthers coach Pete DeBoer was asked what it was like coaching in so many one-goal games.
“That's why I'm bald,'' DeBoer said with a laugh.
A loss like Monday's didn't do his hairline any favors -- and sure didn't leave him in a joking mood.
DeBoer watched most of Monday's uninspired 5-1 loss to the Islanders with a look of disgust on his face, his team's putrid showing in a Long Island afternoon special not indicative of a team desperate to get back into the hunt for a playoff spot.
If anything, the Islanders looked like a team fighting for the postseason instead of the Panthers.
“No excuses. If we had them, no one would want to hear them anyway,'' DeBoer said. “Credit to [the Islanders]. They played hard and were the more desperate team. I don't know why that was. We have to figure that out as a group. I'm not going to let our guys off the hook .-.-. This time of year you don't use excuses, you find ways to win games. That's the bottom line.''
Florida, which has now lost 12 of its past 16, could have pulled to within five points of a playoff spot with a win Monday. The Islanders, who have suddenly won six of seven, trail Carolina by 11 points.
“It's frustrating, no doubt. You grind for four or five months to get to this point where we have a opportunity to make some noise and don't do it,'' DeBoer said.
Instead, the Panthers will likely now go ahead with their fire sale. Any arguments to keep this team together may have been lost after Monday's miserable performance.
“You definitely want a better effort than that. They were the better team by far and they won, deservedly so,'' said goalie Tomas Vokoun, one of the Panthers who could be moved by the Feb. 28 trade deadline. “At the end, we make the [trade] decisions by our play. We probably didn't help ourselves. That's the business and whatever comes of it, you have to deal with it.''
How bad was Monday's game?
(*) The Panthers trailed 4-0 with less than seven minutes gone in the second period.
(*) Florida was being outshot 22-3 at one point and went almost an entire period without getting off a single shot. The Panthers' final shot on goal of the first period came from Steve Bernier at 5:57; the next came from Bryan McCabe at 5:05 of the second period.
(*) Center Stephen Weiss aggressively rolled out of the Florida zone to ram Radek Martinek up against the boards. Weiss was given five minutes for elbowing and kicked out of the game.
(*) Florida's run of 32 consecutive penalty kills came to a close as Martinek – who else? -- scored New York's third goal with just three seconds left in Weiss' long penalty.
“This hurts. This was a big game for us to get back into it,'' said captain Bryan McCabe, yet another pending free agent the Panthers will likely look to move in the coming days. “We didn't show up, had another slow start. Them scoring at the end of that kill was a back-breaker. We just have to regroup.''
Florida may not have escaped injury in this insulting game, either. Radek Dvorak took a hard shot off his skate during the second period and was in obvious pain. Dvorak gamely came back to play but was limping around the locker room afterward. The results of X-rays taken were not known.
“We're pushing for a playoff spot and these are the games you have to win,'' Dvorak said afterward. “We had to step up and did not. We know what we're playing for. We have big games coming up and we have to win them.''
Weiss' penalty put the Panthers in a tough spot. The Panthers were already down 2-0 when the Islanders were working the puck in the Florida zone, Weiss running down a backtracking Martinek before hitting him way past the blue line.
Not only did the Panthers have to kill off a five-minute penalty, but they also had to play the remainder of the game without their top center.
“It's a penalty no doubt,'' DeBoer said. “It was undisciplined, came at the wrong time. But he's not alone. It wasn't one or two guys who were bad. It was 20.''
The Islanders opened the scoring 7:40 into the game when Matt Moulson scored the first of his three goals. Moulson's shot from up close squirted between Vokoun's skate and in. Moulson's second goal, which came about seven minutes later, was ripped from the right circle and over Vokoun's glove.
Florida didn't score until Mike Santorelli made it 4-1 with 9:26 left in the game, knocking a loose puck past Al Montoya. The Islanders outshot the Panthers 37-21.
“We just have to keep with it here, finish this road trip right,'' Santorelli said. “We don't want to give up. We're going to keep pushing until the buzzer.''
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Lost on Long Island: Florida Panthers Drilled 5-1 by Islanders
ISLANDERS 5, PANTHERS 1