Islanders

Islanders Hold Off Panthers, Win 4-3 After Blowing Early Lead

SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 16: Kyle Okposo #21 of the New York Islanders is congratulated by teammates after scoring a first period goal against the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on March 16, 2013 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

SUNRISE, FL – MARCH 16: Kyle Okposo #21 of the New York Islanders is congratulated by teammates after scoring a first period goal against the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on March 16, 2013 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

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SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Casey Cizikas broke a third-period tie, and the New York Islanders held on to beat the Florida Panthers 4-3 after blowing a three-goal lead in the final frame Saturday night.

Cizikas took a pass from Colin McDonald from behind the net and got it past goalie Scott Clemmensen from the left of the crease at 12:55.

Kyle Okposo, Radek Martinek and Brad Boyes also scored, and Evgeni Nabokov stopped 27 shots for the Islanders (13-12-3), who are 5-1-1 in March. New York also jumped ahead of the rival New York Rangers into ninth place in the Eastern Conference.

T.J. Brennan, Marcel Goc and Mike Santorelli scored in a span of 1:43 of the third to tie the game. Scott Clemmensen made 21 saves, but Florida lost its sixth straight and for the ninth time in 10 games.

This is the Panthers’ longest skid since they were 0-7-3 from March 19-April 8, 2011.

Trailing 3-0, the Panthers staged a spirited comeback and scored three goals in a flash. Brennan, playing his first game since being acquired from Buffalo on Thursday, grabbed a loose puck in front of the Islanders net and swept it in at 5:09 to make it 3-1.

Goc scored 34 seconds later when he one-timed a pass from Jack Skille, and Santorelli tied it 1:09 after Goc’s goal at 6:52.

The Islanders led 2-0 after the first period. The Panthers have given up the first goal in each of their past six games and are 1-14-4 when their opponent scores first.

New York went ahead 1-0 on Okposo’s goal. Frans Nielsen passed from behind the net out to Okposo in front. His slap shot beat Clemmensen at 15:56.

The Islanders doubled their advantage when Martinek took a shot from about 15 feet inside the blue line that got past Clemmensen at 17:59.

The Islanders stretched their lead to 3-0 on Boyes’ goal 33 seconds into the second period. His shot from below the right circle glanced off the skate of Florida’s Tomas Kopecky and went into the net.

NOTES: Panthers D Ed Jovanovski returned after missing 22 games because of a lower-body injury. — Panthers forward George Parros left the game with an upper body injury in the first and didn’t return. . Brennan was acquired from Buffalo for a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft. — Islanders forward Colin McDonald returned to the lineup after missing Thursday’s game due to illness.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)