The Florida Panthers played Game 2 of the first round on Friday night and defeated the New York Islanders 3-1 at BB&T Center. It was the first playoff victory for the Cats since 2012. The series is now tied at 1-1 and both clubs will meet again on Sunday in Brooklyn.
Reilly Smith scored his third goal of the series to give the Panthers a 1-0 margin at 4:32 of the first period. Jonathan Huberdeau put the puck ahead to Nick Bjugstad and he placed a backhand shot from the low left circle on net which was saved by Thomas Greiss. Reilly Smith followed up and put in a forehand shot from the low slot.
The same front line for Florida added to the lead during the second period at 6:17. Dmitry Kulikov rang the puck around the boards from the right wing to Smith. He backhanded a pass in front and Bjugstad scored his first playoff goal on a one-timer from the low slot.
The Islanders broke the shutout on a delayed penalty with 3:33 left in the third period. Nick Leddy took a slapshot that went off the back boards behind the Panthers cage. John Tavares got the rebound and scored in the crease area for his second goal of the series.
The Panthers held off the Islanders who pulled their goalie in the last two minutes of the contest. Kulikov eventually sent a rainbow shot from his own left circle into an empty net with 9.3 seconds remaining to wrap up the victory.