NEW YORK — Patric Hornqvist scored the game-clinching goal in the third period, Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 31 shots and Florida beat the New York Islanders 3-1 on Thursday night to give Paul Maurice a victory in his first game as a Panthers coach.
Eetu Luostarinen scored in the second period and Matthew Tkachuk added an empty net late in the third for Florida. The Panthers won their first game of the season a year after winning their first eight games and starting 10-0-1.
Noah Dobson scored for the Islanders and Ilya Sorokin made 26 saves. New York, which started the season with four straight home games a year after a franchise-record season-opening 13-game road trip as UBS Arena construction was completed, lost its home opener for the second consecutive year.
Hornqvist gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead at 3:43 of the third, just 30 seconds after Dobson tied the game with a power play goal. The Swedish striker from Florida took a wraparound on Sorokin’s skate.
Tkachuk took a two-goal lead with 1:15 to play.
Luostarinen opened the scoring with a deflection with 7:15 left in the second period. Radko Gudas fired a light wrist shot from the point and the Finnish forward managed to redirect the puck past Sorokin.
One of the Islanders’ best scoring chances came when Casey Cizikas put Nikita Soshnikov in the middle of the second for a shorthanded chance. However, Bobrovsky played the 2-on-1 aggressively and turned down the opportunity. Cizikas created another shorthanded chance in the third period, but hit a puck wide of the net.
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Jean-Gabriel Pageau kept the game at 0-0 with masterful defensive play when he cleared a puck that flew past Sorokin early in the second period. The Islanders generated several scoring chances after the game-saving play, but failed to solve Bobrovsky.
Tkachuk scored and recorded 22:43 of ice time in his Panthers debut after being acquired in a blockbuster trade this summer. The Panthers also gave Tkachuk an eight-year, $76 million extension after bringing him from Calgary in exchange for Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar.
Maurice made his Florida debut after stepping down as Winnipeg coach last season. Maurice arrived with a record of 315-223-62 in over eight seasons while guiding his team to the playoffs five times. … Lane Lambert also made his regular-season debut as Islanders coach after replacing the fired Barry Trotz in the offseason.
The Islanders are celebrating their 50th anniversary since joining the NHL at the start of the 1972-73 season. The franchise’s first captain, Ed Westfall, dropped the puck for a ceremonial opener. Four-time Stanley Cup champion John Tonelli also sounded a siren alongside actor and Islanders fan Ralph Macchio to engage the crowd ahead of the opening faceoff. Additionally, Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky rang the opening bell for the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday morning and the Empire State Building was lit up in orange and blue for the Islanders.
The Islanders were without hard-hitting forward Cal Clutterbuck, who was placed on injured reserve before the season and can return as soon as he is healthy. Clutterbuck underwent shoulder surgery in March of last season shortly after signing a two-year extension. … New York withdrew forwards Ross Johnston and Oliver Wahlstrom, as well as defenseman Sebastian Aho.
Panthers: At Buffalo on Saturday night in the second of a season-opening three-game road trip.
Islanders: Host Anaheim on Saturday night in the second of a season-opening four-game homestand.