If there had been more 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 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.
"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,'' goaltender Dwayne Roloson said.
Trailing 3-1 after two periods, the Islanders gave up four goals in the third in what might have been their worst loss of the season.
Roloson was not the same goalie who has been stealing games lately. The Islanders also didn't do anything to reciprocate for the many times he has bailed them out as they gave up a season-high seven 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 after Michal Repik surprised defenseman Bruno Gervais at the blue line. Repik stripped him of the puck before beating Roloson on a backhanded breakaway at 14:28 of the first to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
Bridgeport call-up Jesse Joensuu, who scored in his first NHL game last season, scored in his second game with the Islanders this season to make it 2-1 84 seconds later.
Joensuu parked his imposing 6-4, 207-pound frame in the crease, where he converted Trent Hunter's well-placed pass 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.
After more than a minute with the man advantage, during which the Islanders looked feeble and disorganized, Horton picked off Streit as he struggled to keep it in the zone. Horton lifted one over Roloson's left shoulder at 12:40 for his second goal and a 3-1 Panthers lead.
As stunned as the Islanders looked then, it got worse.
Thirty-two seconds later, an odd-man rush resulted in Kamil Kreps' first goal of the season, making it 5-1 and bringing on Biron. He couldn't stop the bleeding, though, as the Panthers piled on with goals by 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.''