UNIONDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves, defenseman Andrew MacDonald scored the winning goal and the New York Islanders defeated the Florida Panthers 3-0 on Sunday night to salvage the finale of a four-game homestand. It was a win the Isles desperately needed.
This is Nabokov’s third shutout this season for the Islanders, who moved within one point of eighth place in the Eastern Conference despite having won only six of 19 home games this season.
After losing their three previous home games by faltering in the third period, the Islanders shut down the Panthers, who have the NHL’s worst record at 9-18-6.
MacDonald scored his second goal of the season at 6:05 of the first period on the power play. His blast from the point eluded Panthers goaltender Jacob Markstrom with assists by Frans Nielsen and Kyle Okposo. It was fifth straight game in which an Islander defensemen has scored and was the 19th goal by a defenseman.
John Tavares scored his team-leading 19th goal, an empty-netter with 31 seconds left. Casey Cizikas added an empty net score with 13 seconds remaining.
Nabokov, who has been in net for 27 of the Islanders’ 32 games this season has 326 career wins, ranking him fourth among active goalies behind Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo and Nikolai Khabibulin. Nabokov’s 55 shutouts move him ahead Bernie Parent and Ed Giacomin to 18th all-time.
The Islanders have been ahead or tied in the third period in 26 of 32 games this season. They are 14-9-3 in those games.
The Islanders dominated the first period, outshooting the Panthers 13-4. The Panthers held a 12-11 shots advantage in a scoreless second period. Nabokov stopped 10 Florida shots in the third.
Markstrom made two sharp saves in the second on Tavares and another point-blank on Colin McDonald in the slot.
The Islanders, who are 6-11-2 at home, play 11 of their final 16 games on the road, beginning Tuesday night in Washington.
The Islanders also won 4-3 on March 16 when they squandered a three-goal, third-period lead, but were rescued on a late goal by Cizikas. The teams meet for a third and final time April 16 at Nassau Coliseum in the Islanders’ last home game.
The Panthers are on a season-high five-game road trip. They won the first two then lost to New Jersey last night. Florida will conclude its trip in Toronto on Tuesday.
NOTES: The Panthers were also missing goaltender Jose Theodore, defenseman Mike Caruso (wrist), Mike Weaver (lower body), Ed Jovanovski (lower body) and forward George Parros (upper body). . The Islanders were without defenseman Brian Strait (knee) and forward David Ullstrom (groin). . Islanders left wing Matt Moulson’s games-played streak stands at 278 games. The only Islanders with longer consecutive-games streaks are Billy Harris (576) and Bob Nystrom (301).
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