Andrew MacDonald #47 helps defend the net as goaltender Evgeni...

Andrew MacDonald #47 helps defend the net as goaltender Evgeni Nabokov #20 of the New York Islanders stops a shot by Tomas Fleischmann #14 of the Florida Panthers. (Oct. 22, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Desperation finally kicked in for the Islanders in the last 16 minutes of Saturday night's game, but it came too late, as it often does.

Despite throwing 18 third-period shots on Panthers rookie goaltender Jacob Markstrom, the Isles could not rally from a goal down and took a 4-2 loss at BankAtlantic Center.

For a second straight game in Florida, the Islanders were at single digits in shots on goal midway through. The only thing that saved them this time was their power play, which delivered goals in each of the first two periods to make up for spotty five-on-five play.

But not even a 43-second five-on-three in the final three minutes of the game could pull them even after Panthers plugger Tim Kennedy beat Evgeni Nabokov four minutes into the third.

"We had moments where we played well," Andrew MacDonald said, "and that came when we had our forecheck working. But there were more parts when we didn't have it, and they turned it against us. We have to find ways to win these."

The Panthers hadn't scored in their previous two games, and the puck dropped barely minutes after the team shipped talented center David Booth to the Canucks, leaving them with a majority of grinding forwards in the lineup. One of them, Shawn Matthias, had a hand in three of the Panthers' goals as his fourth line outworked the Islanders often.

The Isles even took the lead 1:01 in on Mark Streit's power-play goal. They could have pushed the Panthers back on their heels.

"We've got to get better on the road, getting off to better starts," John Tavares said. "We had some first-chance opportunities, but you have to drive the net and wear them down."

After a game in Tampa on Thursday in which the Islanders had six shots at the midway point and took 12:42 of the second before getting their first shot on goal of that period, they again had six shots at the midpoint and took 8:35 before getting their first shot on goal in the second.

"We did a lot of puck-staring the first half of the game," Jack Capuano said. "We didn't have the urgency."

It kicked in briefly after Matt Bradley broke a 1-1 tie with 6:21 left in the second on a pretty feed from Matthias, and the Islanders needed only four seconds of their second power play for Tavares to redirect Streit's pass behind Jose Theodore to tie it. It was Tavares' sixth goal of the season.

Theodore was injured later in the second and gave way to Markstrom, a 21-year-old making just his third NHL appearance, but instead of taking the play right to the rookie, the Islanders were unable to sustain an attack to open the third.

Kennedy and Matthias isolated Mark Eaton down low and Kennedy snapped the winner past Nabokov, who was sharp in making 29 saves, including a penalty-shot stop on Tomas Kopecky just 2:39 into the game.

Matthias took a slashing penalty to give the Isles their two-man advantage with 2:45 to go, but Markstrom stood tall and the Islanders didn't get the goaltender moving enough.

"We definitely could have made it more simple with some plays," P.A. Parenteau said. "That late, everything's moving fast."

Matthias came out of the penalty box and iced it with an empty-netter with 25 seconds remaining, sending the Isles to their second straight loss on the road after winning three straight at home.

"When we were desperate, we played," Capuano said. "That's the frustrating part. We have to do that for 60 minutes."

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