- Doug Mittler, ESPN Insider
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WHAT IT MEANS: Playoff hockey in Uniondale is out of the question this spring, but a matinee victory over the Panthers gave the Islanders another reason to be optimistic. Following a dreadful start that led to the firing of coach Scott Gordon, the Isles haven’t tossed in the towel. Jack Capuano’s squad has won six of its last seven games and is 8-3-0 this month.
YOU CAN CALL ME AL: Al Montoya, this sixth different goalie to start for the Islanders this season, lost his chance at a second straight shutout when Mike Santorelli scored with 9:26 left in the third period. Coming off a blanking of the Kings on Saturday night, Montoya faced just three first-period shots.
The Isles, scrambling for goalie help due to a rash of injuries, acquired Montoya from Phoenix a few weeks ago for a sixth-round draft pick, a deal that looks like a steal, at least for now.
GOOD THINGS COME IN THREES: The Islanders have recorded at least three goals in nine straight games, something they haven’t done since a 10-game run from Feb. 27-March 17, 1994.
MIGHTY MATT: After scoring twice in Saturday’s win over Los Angeles, Matt Moulson netted a pair of first-period scores and an empty-netter in the third for his second career hat trick and first since Dec. 3, 2009 at Atlanta.
Moulson has back-to-back multi-goal games for the first time in his career and three in his last six contests. Defenseman Travis Hamonic assisted on both first-period goals Monday.
NO REST FOR THE WEARY: The Panthers played their third game in three cities in less than 72 hours and it showed. The Isles completely dominated the first period (16-3 edge in shots) with Florida center Stephen Weiss drawing a game misconduct for elbowing. At one point of the second period, the Isles had a 22-3 edge in shots.
The Panthers did settle down in the third period and even pulled goalie Tomas Vokoun with 3½ minutes left, leading to the empty-netter by Moulson.
PRESIDENT’S DAY: The four presidential mascots of baseball’s Washington Nationals (Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt) took to the ice for a between-periods race. Yes, it was President’s Day, but it might have worked better had the Isles been playing the Caps.
NOTES: Isles defenseman Jack Hillen nearly opened the scoring when his wrist shot hit the post seven minutes into the game. … Isles center John Tavares assisted on the first goal by Moulson and has five points in his last three games. … The Panthers had a string of 31 straight penalty kills ended when Radek Martinez scored 37 seconds in the second period. … Center Josh Bailey scored his third goal in his last four games. … Hamonic and the Panthers’ Steve Bernier dropped the gloves late in the second period
UP NEXT: The Isles play three of their next four on the road, beginning Tuesday night in Toronto. They visit Philadelphia on Thursday before a home-and-home series with the Capitals. Florida plays the third game of a four-game road trip Wednesday in Ottawa.
Doug Mittler is a researcher/reporter for ESPN The Magazine.
99dPierre LeBrun and Joe McDonald