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Eberle scores 2, Isles go up 2-0 on Panthers

Jordan Eberle scored two goals Tuesday afternoon, including the tie-breaking tally late in the second period, as the New York Islanders took a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five Eastern Conference qualifying round series by beating the Florida Panthers, 4-2, in Game 2 in Toronto.

Matt Martin and Ryan Pulock also scored for the seventh-seeded Islanders, who will look to advance to the main bracket Wednesday, when the two teams are scheduled to play Game 3. Goalie Semyon Varlamov made 26 saves.

Mike Hoffman and Aleksander Barkov scored for the 10th-seeded Panthers, who are facing long odds as they try to snap the NHL’s longest postseason series victory drought. Florida hasn’t advanced beyond the first round since reaching the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996.

Only one team, the 1985 Islanders, has come back from an 0-2 deficit to win a best-of-five series in NHL history.

Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky recorded 30 saves for Florida.

The Panthers took their first lead of the series at 11:16 of the first. Four seconds after their power play ended, Hoffman’s shot sailed past Varlamov, who was screened by teammates Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield as well as Florida right winger Evgeni Dadonov.

The Islanders tied the score in nifty fashion 6:12 into the second, when Tom Kuhnhackl skated into the crease before tucking a drop pass behind him to Martin, who beat Bobrovsky from point-blank range as Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle arrived a moment too late.

The Panthers quickly retook the lead by scoring on a power play generated when the Islanders’ Brock Nelson was whistled for hooking at the 7:38 mark. Sixteen seconds later, Barkov’s shot sailed over the shoulder of Varlamov, who was shielded by Florida center Jonathan Huberdeau.

Pulock tied the game again almost six minutes later when his shot from just behind the faceoff circle sailed under the legs of Bobrovsky with 6:12 left.

The Islanders took their first lead with 3:33 remaining in the period on Eberle’s first goal, an impressive individual effort in which he shuffled the puck to deke Panthers defenseman Brady Keeper, who first went to one knee and then turned completely around before Eberle fired a shot past Bobrovsky.

Eberle gave the Islanders a two-goal lead with a power -play tally with 9:31 left, when he was stationed next to the net and redirected Anthony Beauvillier’s shot.

–Field Level Media

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