(The Sports Xchange) - Reilly Smith and Nick Bjugstad ignited the offense and Roberto Luongo keyed the defense as the Florida Panthers defeated the New York Islanders 3-1 in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series on Friday night at the BB&T Center.
The series is tied 1-1. Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is set for Sunday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Smith and Bjugstad each had one goal and one assist. The 37-year-old Luongo, who looked bad in allowing five goals in a loss to the Islanders on Thursday, was sharp 24 hours later with 41 saves.
Luongo’s career playoff record is 33-32.
Thomas Greiss, who entered Friday 2-0 against Florida this season, took the loss. He had 28 saves.
Islanders star John Tavares, who had one goal and two assists on Thursday, scored with 3:33 left in the third period, spoiling Luongo’s attempt at what would have been his sixth career playoff shutout.
But Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov scored an empty-net goal with 9.3 seconds to put the game away.
For the second night in a row, Florida struck first, this time with 4:32 elapsed in the first period. Greiss allowed a big rebound off a shot by Bjugstad, and Smith cleaned it up for his third goal of the playoffs.
Those two combined again to put Florida up 2-0 with 6:17 elapsed in the second period. Smith, working behind the Islanders net, set up Bjugstad, who buried his opportunity from the slot.
That was all the scoring Florida needed as Luongo and the defense did the rest.