Panthers Keep Their Season Alive with Thrilling Win Over Islanders

Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (AP Photo/John Locher)

It all turned around just like that!

Mike Hoffman and Brian Boyle scored 2 minutes, 7 seconds apart during the opening minutes of the third period, to help the Florida Panthers avoid elimination on Wednesday with a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders in Game 3 of their preliminary round Stanley Cup playoff series.

Erik Haula also scored, while Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 20 shots.

“It’s so much fun to be part of this winning experience,” said Bobrovsky.

Despite the sudden victory, the 10th-seeded Panthers are still trailing the best-of-five series 2-1.

Game 4 is set to happen at the NHL’s Eastern Conference hub city of Toronto on Friday.

Meanwhile, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Brock Nelson, scored for the Islanders, who are the East’s seventh seed, with 1:27 to go in the game.

Semyon Varlamov stopped 19 shots but then made a costly error that allowed Hoffman’s goal just 41 seconds into the third period.

With Varlamov being penalized for playing the puck inside the trapezoid 7 seconds into the frame, Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle faked a shot in the high slot, before sending it to Hoffman, who took it all the way from the right circle.

Boyle then made it 3-1, corralling a loose puck inside the Islanders zone and snapping a 40-footer inside the left post.

The Panthers were the more disciplined team a day following a 4-2 loss, in which New York converted two of seven power-play opportunities.

Florida converted two of five power-play opportunities, and its penalty-killers finished 3 for 3, and snapped an 0-4-2 skid — including regular season — against the Islanders, which dated to a 4-2 win on Nov. 10, 2018.

The Panthers scored first for the second straight game, with Haula scoring a goal 4:02 into the second period.

The Islanders answered, with Pageau scoring with 3:34 left in the second period.

Can the Panthers keep it up? Friday is right around the corner!

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