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Florida at New York

Islanders beat Panthers, inch closer to playoff berth

CBSSports.com wire reports
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UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- New York Islanders captain Mark Streit had never heard Nassau Coliseum this loud in his five years on Long Island.

An unexpected run to the playoffs can certainly make the old building rock.

Michael Grabner scored twice and Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves as the Islanders moved closer to a playoff berth with a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

Playing before a boisterous crowd, the Islanders earned their ninth win in 12 games while playing their final regular-season home game. The Islanders, 10-11-3 at home after starting 2-8-1, will begin a season-ending, five-game trip on Thursday in Toronto.

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"The energy is fabulous when a big crowd is excited," the Swiss-born Streit said. "We found a way to get another big two points and we go on our road trip with confidence. "

With a 14-5-3 mark since March 1, the Islanders hold seventh place in the Eastern Conference. New York, seeking its first postseason appearance since 2007, has allowed two goals or fewer in nine straight games.

Matt Moulson, Streit and Radek Martinek also scored for the Islanders, who bounced back from a 1-0 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday. The Islanders are three points in front of the Rangers and the Winnipeg Jets.

"We came out strong, and Nabby made great saves, as usual," Moulson said. "We are feeling very good about ourselves with five games left."

Dmitry Kulikov and Marcel Goc had goals for the Panthers (13-23-6), who own the NHL's worst record.

The Islanders (22-16-5) came out flying, continuing the brisk pace they established against the Rangers. They outshot the Panthers 15-8 in the first period and took a 3-0 lead as the near-capacity crowd chanted, "Let's Go Islanders" and "We Want Playoffs."

Moulson opened the scoring at 8:01, tipping in Thomas Hickey's point shot for his 14th goal of the season. Streit made it 2-0 during a 5-on-3 power play at 13:59, ripping a shot past goalie Jacob Markstrom for his sixth of the season.

"The atmosphere at the Coliseum reminded me of games in Switzerland," said Streit, whose hometown team SC Bern -- for which he and Islanders leading scorer John Tavares played during this season's NHL lockout -- won the Swiss elite league championship on Tuesday. "It's really great for us to be in this position. We just have to keep it going."

Grabner increased the lead with his 14th goal, another power-play tally at 16:47 as Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson served a four-minute, high-sticking penalty.

"Timely goals are big," Grabner said. "I'm glad I was able to get two of them."

Kulikov put the Panthers on the board when his slap shot on the power play eluded Nabokov at 18:12 of the first.

Martinek and Grabner scored 14 seconds apart early in the second to make it 5-1 and send Markstrom to the bench in favor of Scott Clemmensen.

Goc cut the Panthers' deficit to three goals at 7:44 of the second.

The 37-year-old Nabokov (21-11-5) has been in goal for 37 of New York's 43 games. He has given up more than two goals just once in his last 11 games. With 333 career wins, he ranks third among active goalies behind Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo.

"We're doing the little things well, and our effort is there every night," Nabokov said. "That is why we are winning."

The Islanders swept the three-game season series from the Panthers.

Florida reached the playoffs a year ago, losing in the first round to New Jersey. The Panthers have used 36 players this season, one in which they have been beset by injuries, particularly the loss of forwards Stephen Weiss and Kris Versteeg.

"All we can do is continue trying our best and playing for pride," Panthers defenseman Mike Weaver said. "We have to keep playing hard."

Notes

  • New York C Casey Cizikas was forced out of the game by an upper body injury.
  • Islanders coach Jack Capuano won his 82nd game, moving him ahead of Terry Simpson for second on the team's career wins list. Al Arbour is first with 740.
  • The Islanders are 12-5-2 on the road, on pace for the best mark in franchise history. Their top road points percentage before this season was .663, set in the 1976-77 (23-10-7) and 1980-81 (25-12-3) seasons.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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In seventh place in the East, the Islanders are close to locking up their first trip to the playoffs in six years.  (USATSI)
In seventh place in the East, the Islanders are close to locking up their first trip to the playoffs in six years. (USATSI)

Scoreboard
Florida (13-23-6)1102
NY Islanders  (22-16-5) «3205
Three Stars
M. Grabner
NYI


Goals: 2
Assist(s): 0
M. Moulson
NYI


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
E. Nabokov
NYI


Saves: 26
Save Pct.: .929

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Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
08:01 - Matt Moulson (14), Tip-In. Assist: Martin, Hickey
13:59Power Play - Mark Streit (6), Slap Shot. Assist: Okposo, Nielsen
16:47Power Play - Michael Grabner (14), Wrist Shot. Assist: MacDonald, Nabokov
18:12 - Dmitry Kulikov (3), Wrist Shot. Assist: Fleischmann, Goc
2ND PERIOD
03:19 - Radek Martinek (3), Slap Shot. Assist: Joensuu, Streit
03:33 - Michael Grabner (15), Backhand Shot, Unassisted.
07:44 - Marcel Goc (6), Wrist Shot. Assist: Kopecky, Fleischmann
3RD PERIOD
None
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
05:15Bailey, 2 min, Holding
12:11Strachan, 2 min, Cross Check
12:55Gudbranson, 4 min, High sticking
16:58Cizikas, 2 min, Roughing
16:58Cizikas, 2 min, Tripping
16:58Brennan, 2 min, Roughing
2ND PERIOD
None
3RD PERIOD
07:15MacDonald, 2 min, Tripping
14:22Hamonic, 2 min, Tripping
18:09Joensuu, 2 min, Interference
Shots On Goal
 123T
FLA881228
NYI159731
 
Other Games
Tor 1 Final
Wash 5
Car 2 Final
Ott 3
NYR 2 Final
Phi 4
Van 1 Final
StL 2
TB 3 Final
Wpg 4
Min 5 Final
Edm 3
LA 2 Final
SJ 3