Uniondale, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Jimmy Hayes potted a pair of goals, including the go-ahead score 2:10 into the third period, to lead the Florida Panthers to a much-needed 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders.
Al Montoya stopped 32 shots to help the Panthers salvage the finale of a three-game road trip through the New York metro area, with Brandon Pirri contributing a goal and an assist to the win.
Florida had gone 1-6-1 over its previous eight games and was outscored by a 9-4 margin in recent road setbacks to the Devils and Rangers.
"We lost two games in a row so we had to salvage something from this trip," Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant said. "This was a big win against a very good team."
The Metropolitan Division-leading Islanders matched a season high with their third straight loss despite Anders Lee's two-goal effort. Jaroslav Halak turned aside 26-of-29 chances in defeat.
"(The Panthers) did play good; don't get me wrong. But we did a couple of things that weren't us, and we just have to get back to what we do best," Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk remarked.
Lee's power-play tally with 7:15 left in the second period forged a 2-2 tie, but Hayes put the Panthers back ahead quickly in the third by snapping a rebound of Nick Bjugstad's one-timer past Halak's left pad on a Florida power play.
The Panthers were able to kill off a late penalty to protect the slim lead before Pirri recorded his fifth goal in six games on a game-sealing empty- netter in the final minute.
Both teams struck early during an evenly played opening period, with Lee giving New York a quick upper hand by converting a 2-on-1 with Josh Bailey a mere 1:44 into the contest.
The Panthers answered just over three minutes later when Hayes successfully re-directed a puck sent towards the net from the left boards by Bjugstad.
Florida briefly moved in front midway through the second period courtesy of Erik Gudbrandson, who jumped into a transition rush and blew past Casey Cizikas before beating Halak with a well-placed backhand.
"I had the lane and (Tomas Fleischmann) made a really good play on the wall," Gudbranson said of the goal. "I beat the guys up ice and got a lucky bounce going short-side."
The Panthers were whistled for too many men on ice just over a minute after the score, however, and New York capitalized on the man advantage when Lee tipped in a centering feed from Travis Hamonic.
Pirri has notched a goal in three straight games ... The Panthers went 1-for-2 on the power play, giving the Islanders 10 goals allowed on their last 19 short-handed chances ... Halak had won five consecutive starts against Florida ... Montoya appeared in 51 games with New York between the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons.