FISHING FOR A WIN: Panthers end New York trip with two points as Montoya comes up big and Hayes scores twice ... Panthers had lost two straight and seven of eight
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Unless a miracle happens and these two end up in the playoffs, the Panthers have played their final game at Nassau Coliseum.
They sure left the old barn in style.
Thanks to a pair of goals from Jimmy Hayes and a terrific spot start from Al Montoya, the Panthers got back on the winning track with a 4-2 victory over the Islanders Tuesday night.
The win was Florida's 20th in 44 games at the Coliseum.
The Islanders are packing up after spending all 43 years of their existence here, heading to the shiny new Barclays Center in Brooklyn next season.
"This is a terrific place to play hockey and seeing these stands filled every night makes it special,'' said Montoya, who spent two seasons with the Islanders and was making his first start since Jan. 9.
"They have a real hometown advantage here. Long Island deserves better.''
Few gave the Panthers much of a chance on Tuesday, not after it lost a track meet the night before against the Rangers and were playing for the third time in four nights.
Florida came in losers of two straight and seven of eight but gave coach Gerard Gallant that complete game he had been begging for and, in turn, got a win it was desperate to get.
"It was a great game, both teams were fast paced and our guys played for 60 minutes and that was the difference,'' Gallant said.
"Al battled hard, played well and made some key saves out there. But this was a team effort and a team win. Everyone came to play.''
The Islanders, which have now lost three straight, jumped all over the Panthers with Anders Lee scoring 1:44 in.
Only Florida had some scoring punch this night with Hayes redirecting a blistering slap shot from Nick Bjugstad to tie it.
Erik Gudbranson gave the Panthers their first lead with a rare driving goal that conjured up images of the great Bobby Orr. Gudbranson charged the net and cooly backhanded the puck past Jaroslav Halak.
"I had the opportunity, had the lane and took it,'' Gudbranson said. "I got a lucky bounce going shortside because I don't think [Halak] gives that up too often. When have you seen me do that in the offensive zone? Never.''
Although the Islanders tied it heading into the third, Florida got a second goal from Hayes on a power play chance off another Bjugstad shot early in the third and Brandon Pirri ended it with an empty net goal with 23 seconds left.
"This was for our team because we needed it,'' said Hayes, who was voted the game's first star.
"We have to put pucks at the net and need to do that to be successful.''
-- Montoya wasn't the only new face in the Florida lineup on Tuesday as Sean Bergenheim and Shawn Thornton were scratched allowing Tomas Fleischmann and Scottie Upshall to return.
"I got what I wanted from everyone,'' Gallant said. "But they were real good. They competed and I thought the team played great. It wasn't about one line.''
PHOTOS BY SEAN CUSHING/twitter: @SeanCushing