John Tavares scored a hat trick as the Florida Panthers fell to the New York Islanders 5-2 on Friday night at BB&T Center. The Cats failed to reach a season-high three-game win streak with the loss. Both clubs faced each other in the 2016 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals where the Isles won in six games.
It did not take long for New York(16-16-8) to score in the first period as they got ahead at 2:22. Anthony Beauvillier broke his stick when he took a slapshot from the left point. Jason Chimera controlled the slowed-down puck at the top of the crease, went to his backhand and put in a shot by Roberto Luongo.
The Islanders quickly made it a two-goal margin at the 3:48 mark. Nick Leddy brought the puck into the slot area and dropped it off to John Tavares. He then scored on a wrist shot from the edge of the left circle. The Isles scored on their first two shots of the contest.
Florida(19-17-8) waited until 9:55 of the frame to cut into the deficit. Jaromir Jagr fed the puck from the left corner to the front of the net. Vincent Trocheck nailed in a tally on a second effort in the crease for his 13th goal of the season.
The Isles regained their two-goal gap with 3:54 left in the second period. The puck ringed around the end boards to the left wing. Leddy ripped a high slapshot for his second point of the game. New York compiled 20 shots during the second.
The Panthers converted on their third power play of the game at 1:42 of the third period to make it 3-2. Trocheck had the puck on the left side and passed back to the blue line. Reilly Smith blasted home a slapshot for his ninth tally of the year.
Tavares would add to the Islanders lead with his second goal of the contest with 7:50 remaining in the third. Josh Bailey sent a lead pass to Tavares at the Panthers blue line. He carried the puck through the right circle and then snapped a shot from the slot. Tavares reached the hat trick as he scored from the neutral zone into an empty net with 1:44 to go for his 14th goal of the season.