ELMONT, N.Y. — Oliver Ekman-Larsson snapped the game-winning wrister on an odd-man rush 1:57 into overtime, lifting the Florida Panthers to a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night at UBS Arena.
Kyle Palmieri tied the game with 1:29 remaining, one-timing a Noah Dobson cross-ice pass from the left post to force overtime for the Islanders. A bit of good fortune was involved because Palmieri didn’t get all of the shot, but it went off Panthers goalie Anthony Stolarz’s mask and in to rescue at least a point.
“It was a great pass by [Dobson],” Palmieri said. “I was just trying to get a piece of it and get it toward the net. Fortunate bounce.”
Stolarz, however, made a key play in fueling the Panthers’ game-winner in overtime. Following a Brock Nelson shot from the left circle, the Florida netminder feigned covering the puck but instead quickly played it out to Evan Rodriguez, who started the rush down the right wing and found Ekman-Larsson for the winner.
“He just made a great play,” Islanders head coach Patrick Roy said of Stolarz’s quick thinking. “We could’ve made a little bit better of a change but their D jumped into the rush. Could we have played the 1-on-2 a little bit different? Yeah… But we had our chances before. That’s how I see it.”
Both of the Panthers’ regulation goals came via the power play, capitalizing on a second-period Mathew Barzal hook and an ill-timed Samuel Bolduc trip early in the third period — the latter resulting in Matthew Tkachuk’s man-advantage goal 5:59 into the final stanza.
“We have to get rid of those,” Roy said of the penalties. “I think when our guys start to understand that we can’t take penalties… then I think we’ll be fine.”
Simon Holmstrom scored the Islanders’ first goal late in the second period.
Florida, the defending Eastern Conference champions, won their NHL-best 17th game on the road this season while the Islanders (20-18-11) have dropped three of their last four to start Patrick Roy’s rein as head coach as they head into the All-Star break.
“Listen, we were down 2-1 with two minutes left,” Palmieri said. “Any time you find a way to at least get a point out of that, it’s one point we’ll take. We’d love to have the second one. It’s just three-on-three overtime, you’re going to have chances back and forth, and that’s it.”
The Panthers opened the scoring 7:56 into the second period on the power play following a Barzal hooking penalty. As the Islanders’ penalty kill scrambled to regain position following sustained Florida zone time, Sam Reinhart was left open in front of Semyon Varlamov where he snuck a one-timed wrist shot under the arm of the New York netminder.
“We should have had better sticks and better positioning,” Roy said. “It was kind of a broken play. It went behind the net and then, boom, right in front and in the net.”
In a period in which the Islanders were outshot 18-8, they managed a way to equalize ahead of the third period. With 3:31 to go in the second, Oliver Wahlstrom’s tie-up in the face-off circle allowed Jean-Gabriel Pageau to move the play forward, for Holmstrom to slot a wrister home for his 12th goal of the season.
Bolduc’s tripping penalty put the Panthers on the power play 5:12 into the third period and 47 seconds later, the visitors were ahead. A wrister by Aleksander Barkov was redirected by Tkachuk at the side of the net, making the Islanders pay for their discomposed play.
“We could have put a little quicker pressure on Barkov,” Roy said. “But I thought our PK did a good job. Was it perfect? No. Would I like to see us be 100% in PK? Yes, because we would have won the game 1-0.”
Palmieri’s tying goal was generated by Dobson, who continued his superb season by tallying his 52nd point of the season with that assist — a new career high for the young blueliner. From the right wall at the top of the right circle, he beamed a pin-point, cross-ice pass to the open Palmieri at the left post.
“My God, what a pass by Noah on this one,” Roy said. “Really? Going across like this? I mean, that was pretty.”