Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Anthony Beauvillier scored to lift the New York Islanders to a 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday in the opener of a best-of-five Eastern Conference qualifying round series in Toronto.
The seventh-seeded Islanders lost their final seven games (0-3-4) before the regular season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 12. They will attempt to take a commanding series lead on Tuesday in Game 2 of the series.
Semyon Varlamov made 27 saves to secure his first postseason win since April 26, 2014.
Jonathan Huberdeau scored 23 seconds into the third period for the 10th-seeded Panthers, who lost six of their final nine regular season games (3-4-2). Sergei Bobrovsky recorded 26 saves after missing the final four regular-season games with a lower body injury.
The Islanders, who were the "home" team, took the lead exactly 12 minutes into the first period. Tom Kuhnhackl delivered a forecheck to Florida defenseman Riley Stillman along the boards and jarred the puck loose, which bounced to New York's Derick Brassard. The center's pass into the crease eluded the outstretched stick of Florida's Brett Connolly and slid to Pageau, who scored on Bobrovsky. It was Pageau's 13th postseason goal and his first since May 13, 2017.
A roughing penalty on the Panthers' Mike Matheson set up Beauvillier's power-play goal 3:39 into the second. Beauvillier accepted a feed from defenseman Devon Toews and fired a shot that sailed under the legs of sliding Florida defenseman Mackenzie Weegar and between Bobrovsky's pads.
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who needed 90 stitches to repair a cut eyelid suffered on March 3, headed to the locker room and did not return.
The Islanders nearly extended the lead to 3-0 in the final minute of the period, when Beauvillier and Brock Nelson mounted a 2-on-1 rush that ended with Bobrovsky making a sprawling save.
The Panthers halved the deficit early in the third period, when Huberdeau capped a 3-on-2 rush by shuffling the puck as he crossed into the crease before poking a shot between the legs of Varlamov.
Bobrovsky robbed Nelson again with 4:14 left, when he slowed the forward's shot before landing on the puck outside the crease. The Panthers pulled Bobrovsky with about a minute left but didn't get a shot against Varlamov.
--Field Level Media