SUNRISE, Fla. - There isn't much room on the ice these days, nor is there much time to dwell on points left on the table.
The Islanders and Panthers clogged up space and followed the bouncing puck through a 4-3 shootout loss Saturday night for the Isles, who gave up the extra point to the hungry, ninth-place Panthers on Jonathan Huberdeau's shootout goal in the opening round.
But the Islanders felt OK about allowing just 18 shots through 65 minutes and about tying the game with 7:12 left in the third on Josh Bailey's rocket slap shot past Dan Ellis.
"It was kind of an ugly game on both sides," said Bailey, who ripped home his 14th goal after John Tavares worked the puck off Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic and sent a feed out for the one-timer. "I thought we played a decent game, we got a point."
Michal Neuvirth made his Islanders debut in goal and it wasn't terribly pretty for him, either, with just 15 saves. He admitted that a season of facing 35-plus shots every game when he played for the Sabres had him flummoxed Saturday night, playing behind a team that allows a shade more than 28 shots per game and possesses the puck way more than Buffalo did.
"I haven't been in a game like that all season and I think I couldn't get into the game, mentally," Neuvirth said. "Different hockey, different system -- it's just different."
Erik Gudbranson's point shot clicked off Casey Cizikas' leg and squirmed through Neuvirth at 12:51 of a sleepy first period, with just 11 total shots between the two teams.
Anders Lee blocked a pass that sent Tavares in alone and the captain deked Ellis for his career-best 32nd goal at 4:39 of the second. Nick Bjugstad and Nick Leddy traded goals and it was 2-2 heading to the third.
Ellis was starting his second straight game for the Panthers after their starter and backup, Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya, were injured Tuesday. He turned aside Ryan Strome's two-on-one try midway through the third and Huberdeau's spin-around shot fooled Neuvirth seconds later at the other end, dropping the Isles behind for a third time in the game.
For the third time on this four-game road trip, the Islanders responded in the latter half of the third. In Dallas, it was Lee's desperation goal with 1.4 seconds left to earn a point; in Nashville, it was Brock Nelson's rebound goal with 6:08 to play that proved the winner.
"No one on our team doubts when we're down," Bailey said. "We have that quiet confidence that we'll get it back and tonight was another example of that."
Thanks to Tavares, of course, who had another dominant game to hit the 70-point plateau for the season, giving him the league scoring lead by a point over the Capitals' Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
Frans Nielsen, Tavares and then Bailey failed to convert in the shootout, leaving that extra point behind, but the Islanders headed to Toronto late Saturday night knowing that points are harder to come by as the season winds down.
"These are tight, playoff-style games," Tavares said. "You get to a shootout, so it's not like we did a lot wrong. We believe in ourselves, we have all season and losing in a shootout certainly doesn't change that."