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Comrie scores twice as Islanders rally to beat Panthers 4-2

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

UNIONDALE, N.Y. - It isn't often the New York Islanders have such a comfortable lead they can afford to think about anything other than winning.

Yet, on New Year's Eve before a long flight out west, Doug Weight had his sights set on his 1,000th NHL point. That milestone wasn't reached Wednesday, but the Islanders headed to the airport feeling good about a solid 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers.

Weight assisted on the second of Mike Comrie's two goals and couldn't completely free his mind of what is in store with his next point.

"We had the lead and we were playing pretty good ... so yeah, I was thinking about it a little bit. It's hard not to," said the 37-year-old veteran of 17 seasons. "You're thinking about hunting it down and getting it over with and doing it at home. That would be nice."

If he is going to hit the mark at home, he will have a long wait. The Islanders are facing a tough four-game road trip and won't be back at Nassau Coliseum for two weeks. New York has won consecutive home games after going nearly a month without a victory there.

After Brett McLean gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead with 1:36 left in the first period, the Islanders took over with three goals in the second. Comrie stretched his goal streak to three games with the tying tally, and then put New York in front.

Sean Bergenheim added insurance in the final minute of the second, and defenceman Mark Streit scored a power-play goal in the third to give New York (12-22-4) its first win over Florida since Dec. 9, 2006.

The Islanders - who have the fewest points in the NHL - will take any win. New York is 2-10-2 in its last 14 games, but has earned points in three of four following a 10-game losing streak.

"You lose 10 in a row, there can be a million excuses but there is a reason you're losing," Weight said. "We weren't playing 60 minutes, and I think now we have a little new-found energy."

Joey MacDonald, subbing for a third straight game for oft-injured regular Rick DiPietro, made 27 saves for his 11th win.

"Joey in the first five or seven minutes was probably the difference for us," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said.

Tomas Vokoun stopped 19 shots in two periods for the Panthers, who dropped their fourth straight (0-3-1) while starting a four-game trip. It was the second time in three starts following back-to-back shutouts that Panthers coach Peter DeBoer yanked Vokoun from the net.

He also pulled Craig Anderson, Vokoun's replacement, in Florida's previous game after Anderson allowed four goals on 20 shots.

"Obviously, some of those goals should have been stopped," Vokoun said. "People make mistakes all the time. This has never happened to me in my career. But I'm not blaming my mistakes on anybody else. When you get pulled three of the last four games, it's going to shake your confidence."

DeBoer didn't cut Vokoun any slack when a first-period Islanders goal was waved off due to goalie interference.

"Really it was four goals on 20 shots," DeBoer said. "Even the first one that didn't count looked like it went in to me. That was reason enough."

Nathan Horton cut Florida's deficit to 4-2 with 28 seconds left.

Comrie went four games without a point after returning from a hip injury that forced him to miss 17 contests, but he has regained his scoring touch and has mastered the angles, too.

Kyle Okposo took a shot from the bottom edge of the right circle that reached the crease as Comrie rushed the net. The puck struck Comrie's right skate in stride and was steered perfectly past Vokoun 7:50 into the second. The play went to a brief video review, but the goal stood because Comrie didn't kick the puck.

Comrie struck again with 4:55 left in the second after taking a pass from Weight below the goal line to Vokoun's left during a power play. Comrie fired a shot that slid through the crease and caromed in off Vokoun's right skate. It was Comrie's sixth goal of the season.

"I can honestly say it was the first time I felt healthy," Comrie said. "Playing on one leg isn't the easiest thing as a professional athlete. I feel so excited to make a difference."

Bergenheim showed off his best bank shot to make it 3-1. His drive struck the left post and then bounced in off Vokoun's back with 23.9 seconds left.

Streit made it 4-1 against Anderson with 6:28 remaining.

Notes: Anderson made 12 saves. ... Florida has allowed 18 goals during its four-game skid. ... The Islanders recalled LW Trevor Smith from Bridgeport (AHL), and the forward made his NHL debut. ... New York placed 37-year-old forward Mike Sillinger on the injured list with a hip injury.



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