Islanders fall in OT to East-leading Florida Panthers as team honors Mike Bossy

The Florida Panthers celebrates a goal by Aleksander Barkov during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders.
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

The outcome meant very little for the Islanders at this point in the year, but Tuesday’s loss was disappointing enough for New York which fell to the Florida Panthers 3-2 in overtime Tuesday night at UBS Arena. 

Aleksander Barkov scored all three of Florida’s goals, including the game-winner 20 seconds into the extra period, as he recorded his third career hat trick. The loss was the Islanders’ third in their last four games as they head into the final stretch of the regular season. 

The Islanders were eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday, but have remained competitive despite their current place in the standings. 

“I think if we didn’t come to play tonight it could have easily been … that’s a heck of a hockey team over there,” Mathew Barzal said. “They could have buried us tonight and I liked our effort the whole way through. I thought we played a solid game and I think just our organization, the mindset no matter what the circumstances are, back-to-back or long road trips or a situation like this where we know we’re eliminated and playing some good teams we’re just building a culture here. 

“That no matter what the time is or what the circumstances we’re going to play hard, and we’re building to something bigger than this season.” 

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Jonathan Huberdeau took the puck into the Islanders’ end along the wall and then flipped the puck over the stick of Isles defenseman Ryan Pulock to get the puck over to Barkov. The Panthers’ captain wisely waited for just the right moment to touch the puck and slide it past the sprawled-out leg of Ilya Sorokin for the win. 

Sebastian Aho and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored for New York and Sorokin made 39 saves in his fifth straight start for the Islanders. The young Islanders netminder has stopped 35 or more shots in goal in four of those five games and entered Tuesday night with a .928 save percentage over his previous four starts. 

“He’s handled it extremely well,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said about Sorokin. “We’ve thrown him into a couple of situations of back-to-backs where he’s sort of told, not last minute, but going into told hey you have one of the two games this weekend. Probably the front end, not expecting the back end and all of a sudden getting that one. … We’ve thrown a couple of things at him, not on purpose and he’s dealt with it very, very well.” 

Aho gave the Islanders the 1-0 lead 4:56 into the second period on snipe from the faceoff circle. The 26-year-old took a cross-ice pass from fellow defenseman Andy Greene and put the puck over the shoulder of Florida starter Sergei Bobrovsky for his second goal of the year. 

The goal was Aho’s fourth of his career and came in his 56th game in the three seasons that he’s played in the NHL.

Florida evened the game at one after Aleksander Barkov fired a shot from the top of the slot that went through traffic in front of the net and beat Sorokin. Claude Giroux set the play up by feeding Barkov, who took a few strides before shooting the puck into the Islanders’ net. 

Pageau gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead just over a minute into the third after he finished off a pass from Mathew Barzal. The Islanders center moved the puck to Pageau, who was just to the side of the Panthers’ net, and quickly flicked it by Bobrovsky. 

The lead did not last, however, after Barkov scored his second of the game with 3:58 left on the clock to tie things up at two. Sorokin made the initial stop on Barkov’s shot, but couldn’t control the puck and after a scramble in front of the Islanders’ net the puck went right back to Barkov for the goal. 

The Islanders honored the memory of the late Mike Bossy, who passed away on Friday at the age of 65 after battling lung cancer, prior to puck drop. Tuesday marked the first home game since the Islanders legend’s passing and the night took a somber, but celebratory tone as the organization remembered Bossy’s legacy with a pregame ceremony and moment of silence. 

In attendance was Bossy’s daughter Tanya, as well as his granddaughters Alexe and Gabrielle. Fans placed flowers in front of Bossy’s Hall of Fame plaque on the UBS Arena concourse and two large bouquets were left by the team on both sides in his honor. 

“It was pretty special,” Barzal said. “I looked back into the crowd after the video was done seen some tears coming down couple of faces and you know, obviously, there’s probably a lot of people in the building tonight that saw him play live and you know, saw him win in Long Island and yeah, it’s just he obviously by the sounds of it, was a pretty special human and a special player.”