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Takeaways as Panthers’ comeback bid falls flat against Islanders to begin homestand

It was a game in which the Florida Panthers dominated everywhere but the final score.

In the end, though, that’s ultimately what matters.

After a successful three-game road trip in Canada, the Panthers couldn’t carry that momentum in their first back home in a 4-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday at Amerant Bank Arena to begin a three-game homestand.

The loss, Florida’s third consecutive defeat on home ice, came despite the Panthers having a 47-26 edge in shots on goal and 93-54 advantage in shot attempts.

“I didn’t think they had the edge,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “I thought we were pretty good tonight.”

Florida falls to 14-8-2. The Islanders improve to 10-7-6.

After falling behind 3-1 midway through the second period, the Panthers twice cut their deficit to one goal — first on a Matthew Tkachuk goal with 6:34 left in the second period and then again on a Carter Verhaeghe goal with 10:24 left in regulation — but got no closer.

Sam Reinhart also scored for Florida, tying the game at 1-1 in the first period.

Anders Lee, Pierre Engvall, Simon Holmstrom and Julien Gauthier scored for the Islanders. New York goaltender Ilya Sorokin stopped 44 of 47 shots that came his way.

The Panthers continue their homestand Wednesday against the Dallas Stars and Friday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Both games are scheduled for a 7 p.m. puck drop.

Here are three takeaways from the game.

Dec 2, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers goaltender Anthony Stolarz (41) stands on the ice in front of his goal against the New York Islanders during the first period at Amerant Bank Arena.
Dec 2, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers goaltender Anthony Stolarz (41) stands on the ice in front of his goal against the New York Islanders during the first period at Amerant Bank Arena.

Rough night for Anthony Stolarz

The Panthers went with Anthony Stolarz in net hoping he could build off his strong start to the season as Florida’s No. 2 goaltender.

Stolarz entered Saturday coming off a 32-save effort in Florida’s shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday and overall was 3-1-1 with a 1.99 goals against average and .929 save percentage in five starts.

He didn’t have the same fortunes Saturday, giving up four goals on 26 shots faced. Both goals he allowed in the second period — to Engvall 4:37 into the frame and Holmstrom about four-and-a-half minutes later — were off rebounds. The goal from Gauthier 3:43 into the third period beat him high off an Islanders offensive zone faceoff win.

Dec 2, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) passes the puck away from New York Islanders right wing Simon Holmstrom (10) during the first period at Amerant Bank Arena.
Dec 2, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) passes the puck away from New York Islanders right wing Simon Holmstrom (10) during the first period at Amerant Bank Arena.

Tkachuk snaps lengthy goalless streak

Tkachuk’s second-period goal was his first since Nov. 10 against the Carolina Hurricanes and just his fourth of the season. He had gone 10 consecutive games without scoring a goal.

It was just the seventh time in his NHL career that Tkachuk had a streak of at least 10 consecutive games without a goal and his first since going 13 consecutive games late in the 2020-21 season with Calgary.

Successful penalty kill streak ends

The Panthers’ run of six consecutive games without allowing a power-play goal came to an end in the first period Saturday when Lee tapped in a feed from Kyle Palmieri in front of the net past Stolarz.

In that six-game stretch prior to Saturday, the Panthers were a perfect 26 for 26 on the penalty kill.

Florida did kill off the only other penalty it took, making the team 27 for its past 28.