Florida Panthers left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) tries to score...

Florida Panthers left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) tries to score in front of Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. Credit: AP/Michael Laughlin

SUNRISE, Fla. — Two times to start this three-game road trip, the Islanders gave up the lead in the third period. They held on this time.

That’s part of the confident swagger the Islanders know they need.

They completed an ultimately satisfying trip with a 4-3 win over the Panthers on Saturday night at Amerant Bank Arena despite missing leading scorer Mathew Barzal because of illness.

“They’re going to have a push in the third but, for the most part, we played with confidence,” defenseman Noah Dobson said. “Just trying to have that swagger when we have leads. We’re getting back to that and that’s big for the confidence to close that one out.”

The Islanders (10-7-6) are on a 5-1-1 streak and moved into the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot. It’s a long way from their 0-4-3 skid from Nov. 4-16.

The trip started with the Devils rallying for three goals in the third period for a 5-4 win on Tuesday. But the Islanders topped the Hurricanes, 5-4, in overtime on Thursday despite giving up the equalizer with 2.5 seconds left in regulation. Barzal scored the winner to go with three assists in that game.

“You get results, right?” Dobson said when asked how the Islanders feel the swagger. “Everything is based off wins and losses in the big picture. Last game they scored one late but we bounced back in overtime and found a way. And then tonight we found a way. So we can get some confidence off that to find that swagger.”

The Islanders still have been outscored 31-15 in the third period this season, but a busy Ilya Sorokin made 17 of his 42 saves in the final 20 minutes.

“He’s the best,” said Julien Gauthier, who scored the winner at 3:42 of the third period on a blistering wrist shot from the right circle off Bo Horvat’s faceoff win. “There’s not many goalies that can stay that good the whole game.”

It marked the former Ranger’s first goal with the Islanders and ended with a demonstrative celebration that Gauthier swore happened because he tripped after shooting. It was Gauthier’s first multipoint effort with the Islanders. He also had the primary assist on Simon Holmstrom’s goal that made it 3-1 at 9:12 of the second period.

Coach Lane Lambert elevated Gauthier to Horvat’s top line during the game.

“I saw him skating,” Lambert said. “I saw him moving his feet. He’s a big, big guy that can really move.”

“That was amazing to get a lot of ice time,” said Gauthier, who logged a season-high 13:02 in his sixth game of the season. “Your legs feel amazing.”

Florida’s Carter Verhaeghe knocked in a loose puck at the crease to close the gap to 4-3 at 9:36 of the third period.

Anthony Stolarz made 23 saves for the Panthers (14-8-2). He was pulled for an extra skater with 3:08 left in regulation, but the Islanders held on.

“It was a good game,” Sorokin said. “It was a good two points.”

Anders Lee’s power-play goal opened the scoring at 12:36 of the first period and Pierre Engvall, at the crease, regained a 2-1 lead at 4:37 of the second after Sam Reinhart tied it at 13:42 of the first. Matthew Tkachuk brought the Panthers within 3-2 at 13:14 of the second period.

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