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Andy Hilbert scores shootout goal to lead Islanders over Panthers 4-3

Hilbert beat Florida goalie Ed Belfour in the 10th round of the shootout to lead New York to a 4-3 victory over the Panthers on Saturday night.

"I saw Belfour was stacking his pads and trying to clog the middle," Hilbert said. "I've been working on my backhand in practice, and put it over him."

Miroslav Satan, with the help of a video review, scored for the Islanders in the first round, but on their last chance, Olli Jokinen of the Panthers beat Rick DiPietro to tie the shootout score.

"It's a matter of who's going to blink first," DiPietro said.

Jay Bouwmeester tied the game at three with 3:29 left in regulation when he got a bounce off teammate Stephen Weiss' skate and blasted the puck past Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro.

"That was a great play by Stephen," Bouwmeester said. "I was kind of surprised the puck came right to me."

Shawn Bates, Alexei Yashin and Jason Blake scored for New York, who is 3-1-2 after six games of a seven-game home stand. Rick DiPietro turned aside 22 shots for just his second win this season.

Nathan Horton and Joel Kwiatkowski also scored for the Panthers, who have only won twice in their last eight games. Belfour played solidly, making 36 saves.

"Eddie was fantastic," Weiss said. "He kept us in the game, and gave us our point. Without question, he was our best player tonight."

Bates scored his first goal this season at 5:55 of the opening period. He was sent on a breakaway off a perfect feed from Brendan Witt, and his 10-foot wrist shot from the low slot squirted between Belfour's pads. DiPietro also earned an assist on the play.

Horton tied the game at 7:59 on the Panthers' first power play. He moved down low on the right side, outmuscled defenceman Sean Hill, and shoved a backhand past DiPietro.

Florida now has at least one power play goal in 10 of their first 13 contests.

Yashin restored the Islanders' lead at 12:15 when he finished off a two-on-one with Jason Blake by one-timing Blake's bounce pass past Belfour.

Yashin has 12 points in New York's first 10 games (4-8-12), with eight of those points coming in his last four games.

Kwiatkowski tied it at 10:08 of the second period. He fired a bouncing puck toward DiPietro, and the puck fluttered between his legs.

Blake answered back with 62 seconds left in the period on a power-play tip in.

The Islanders had a season-high 20 shots in the period.

New York forward Mike Sillinger said the Islanders played well from start to finish.

"I think that was our most complete game this season," Sillinger said. "We were skating all night long."

Notes: Joe Nieuwendyk missed his second straight game for Florida with back problems. ... Panthers coach Jacques Martin needs one win to become the 13th NHL coach with 450 career wins. ... DiPietro's assist is his first point since Oct. 5 of last season. ... Blake needs one more goal to reach 100 NHL career goals.


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