(The Sports Xchange) - Two weeks ago, Alan Quine was in the minor leagues. Now he is a New York Islanders hero.
Quine scored a game-winning power-play goal with 4:00 left in double overtime as the New York Islanders defeated the Florida Panthers 2-1 on Friday night at the BB&T Center, taking a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven first-round playoff series.
The power play was set up when Panthers center Derek MacKenzie was called for slashing, and that’s when the 23-year-old Quine came through, putting an end to an exhausting game.
”Everyone wanted to score before the end of the second overtime, but we weren’t worried if it went longer,“ said Quine, who didn’t score his first NHL goal until April 9. ”However long it took, we wanted to make sure we didn’t let up.
“(Our energy) was low, and then it was high (when New York scored). That gave us an extra jolt.”
The close game was indicative of the entire series. Aside from one empty-netter, each of the first five games in this series has been decided by one goal.
Center Frans Nielsen scored New York’s other goal, and Thomas Greiss made 47 saves to earn the win.
Greiss’ biggest stop came with 12:41 left in the first overtime after Islanders defenseman Calvin De Haan grabbed the puck in the crease, which was ruled an infraction. Panthers center Aleksander Barkov was awarded a penalty shot, but his backhand move was stopped by Greiss.
That was just the third penalty shot in NHL playoff history, and De Haan did not agree with the call.
”It was kind of a phantom penalty shot,“ he said. ”I didn’t cover the puck in the crease. I just grabbed it and spun it. You can’t control it like a soccer ball and take it off the chest. It was a reactionary play.
“(Greiss) made a good save (on the penalty shot), and I feel like that was the turning point of the game.”
The game was marred by a gruesome injury.
With 18:11 left in double overtime, the Panthers lost second-line center Nick Bjugstad, who was clipped at the knees by New York’s Shane Prince, falling face first into the boards. Bjugstad remained down on the ice for about five minutes before he was able to recover and head to the trainers’ room.
Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said Bjugstad needed some stitches to close a cut on his head.
“Hopefully he’s alright,” Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell said. “That was definitely scary.”
This was the Islanders’ first win in a Game 5 since 1987, snapping a 0-for-11 skid. Game 6 is set for Sunday in New York, where the Islanders can clinch their first series win since 1993.
No team has waited longer to advance in the playoffs than the Islanders, although Florida hasn’t won a series since 1996.
The winner of this series will play the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round.
The Islanders apparently learned some lessons of late. As of Friday morning, they were in this scenario -- tied 2-2 heading into Game 5 -- twice in the past couple years. In 2013, they lost at the Pittsburgh Penguins. In 2014, they lost 5-1 at the Washington Capitals.
This time, the Islanders came out on top, thanks in part to Quine, Nielsen and Greiss, who had never started a playoff game before this series but now has three wins.
Nielsen has three goals in the playoffs, one in each of New York’s wins.
Florida was led by Barkov, who scored the Panthers’ goal, and goalie Roberto Luongo, who made 40 saves.
The Islanders again shut down Panthers right winger Jaromir Jagr, who hasn’t scored in a playoff game since 2012, a span of 36 games. Jagr, 44, had four shots on goal in 28:42 of ice time.
New York scored first. With 6:29 left in the first period, Nielsen rebounded a Thomas Hickey shot and scored from the slot.
Florida tied the score 1-1 with 18:01 left in the third period. Defenseman Alex Petrovic, who scored the game-winning goal in the third period of Game 4, set up Barkov for the tying goal.
Petrovic threaded a pass from the right side, through traffic and in between Jagr’s legs, right to Barkov, who tapped the puck in on the left side with a yawning net to shoot at.
The Islanders, claiming offside, challenged the goal, but the play stood as called.
That was all the scoring until Quine’s game-winner. And now, with the series headed back to Brooklyn, the Islanders have the edge. In the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs, in series tied 2-2, the team that came out on top in Game 5 advanced 78.4 percent of the time.
Campbell, though, said the Panthers won’t back down.
“We’ll be ready,” he said.
Added Gallant: “It’s a tough loss. We played a great game. The kid over there (Greiss) is playing really well.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford