If there had been anything more significant than the sparse crowd on hand at Nassau Coliseum last night, the Islanders would’ve been hit with a hurricane of boos, but with the paltry attendance (listed as 10,489) the team was lucky to escape with just an understated shower of discontent after a humiliating 7-1 defeat by the Panthers.
The Islanders repeatedly turned the puck over and were punished for their recklessness and lackadaisical play as the Panthers shoved each and every mistake down their throat.
The performance was so galling, goaltender Dwayne Roloson said he thought the team was overlooking the game in anticipation of Wednesday night's matchup against their rivals, the New York Rangers.
"To be honest, I thought we were a team that forgot we were playing tonight and was looking forward to the Rangers games this week," Roloson said.
Trailing 3-1 after two periods, the Islanders gave up four goals in the third period in arguably their worst loss of the season.
In an atrocious third period, the Islanders essentially handed over two goals in the first 55 seconds, leading Scott Gordon to pull goaltender Roloson and replace him with Martin Biron.
Roloson was not the same goaltender that has been stealing games for the Islanders of late, but the Islanders didn’t do anything to reciprocate the many times he has bailed them out as they gave up a season-high 7 goals, including a hat trick for Nathan Horton.
"Probably the worst game of the season so far," Mark Streit said. "We were just awful tonight."
The first gift-wrapped goal came as Michal Repik surprised defenseman Bruno Gervais at the blue line and stripped him of the puck before beating Roloson on a backhanded breakaway at 14:28 to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
The Panthers then took a two-goal lead early in the second period after Horton caromed a puck off two Islanders defensemen—first Andy Sutton’s outstretched stick, then Jack Hillen’s skate— for his first goal of the night at 2:53.
Bridgeport call-up Jesse Joensuu, who scored a goal in his first NHL game last season, scored a goal in his second game with the Islanders this season to cut the Panthers lead 84 seconds later.
Showing why the Islanders summoned him from Bridgeport, Joensuu utilized his imposing 6-4, 207-lb frame to park himself in the crease, where he received a well-placed placed pass from Trent Hunter from behind the net at 4:17.
The Islanders took a major blow later in the period, however, when they gave up a shorthanded goal on their first power-play opportunity of the game.
After more than a minute with the man-advantage during which time the Islanders looked feeble and disorganized, Horton picked off Mark Streit as he struggled to keep it in the zone and lifted one over Roloson’s left shoulder at 12:40 for his second goal of the night and a 3-1 Panthers lead.
Tavares became the next Islanders offender as he gave the puck away in the neutral zone, a turnover that led to a give-and-go Stephen Weiss goal only 13 seconds into the third period.
As stunned as the Islander looked then, it got worse.
32 seconds later, an odd-man rush resulted in Kamil Kreps’ first goal of the season, which extended the Panthers lead to four goals and was enough for Gordon to replace Roloson with Biron.
Biron couldn’t stop the bleeding, though, as the Panthers piled on for two more goals—from Horton and Radek Dvorak.
"It's tough to just turn the page," Streit said. "I think every player needs to do some soul-searching tonight, go home and think about what just happened."