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Jassen Cullimore wins it in OT for Panthers, Rick DiPietro has to switch pads

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

UNIONDALE, N.Y. - Jassen Cullimore's post-game outfit included a blue cape. Fitting, as he'd just saved the Florida Panthers.

His goal 1:37 into overtime gave the Panthers a 4-3 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night. Cullimore ripped a slap shot from the left circle into the top right corner of the net for his first goal of the season. It was his 22nd career goal in 668 games, but his seventh game-winner.

"I make them count, don't I?" Cullimore said afterward. "I didn't know it was in.

"The red light never came on, though the referee pointed. I didn't want to celebrate too soon. I wanted to make sure."

In his first game back after missing the previous three with a sprained left knee, Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro came out for warmups and played the first period in clean, white leg pads. For the second and third periods, he switched back to his old orange, blue and white pads without an explanation.

A goalie's equipment must be inspected and approved by the NHL before it can be used in a game. Using illegal or uninspected equipment results in an automatic two-game suspension for the player, a $25,000 fine for his team, and $1,000 for the team's equipment manager.

"We are sorry but we have no comment on this matter at this time," Mike Murphy, the NHL's senior vice-president of hockey operations said via e-mail.

An Islanders spokesman declined comment during the game, but afterward, DiPietro explained.

"I got those pads about a week before I got hurt," DiPietro said. "I started wearing them and breaking them in, and then started using them in the game.

"Apparently, they haven't gone through the NHL. I thought we cleared it. After warmup, we found that we cleared it, but apparently, they weren't satisfied with that. We just found out after the first period that I had to switch to the old ones.

"I guess it's my fault, but I was under the impression that they had been approved. I thought I did the right thing. Once we found out after the warmup that they hadn't been approved, we called and let them know and measured them and made sure they were legal. Everything measured out fine. It's their call."

Nathan Horton scored twice and added an assist for the Panthers, who had lost three in a row. Linemate David Booth added a goal and assist, while Craig Anderson got his first win of the season with 38 saves.

"It definitely feels good," Anderson said. "The guys played hard in front of me and there weren't many second chances."

Florida coach Jacques Martin got his 498th NHL coaching victory, putting him in sole possession of 10th place on the all-time win list for head coaches ahead of Glen Sather.

Mike Comrie and Mike Sillinger scored power-play goals for the Islanders, while Bill Guerin scored at even strength. Sillinger also assisted on the other two goals. DiPietro stopped 28 shots.

The Panthers grabbed a 1-0 lead 50 seconds into the second period. Horton took a wrist shot, and it dribbled between DiPietro's pads into the net.

The Islanders tied the game on their first power play when Comrie banged home a rebound at 2:12.

Florida went back on top when Booth, alone at the right crease, had a rebound land right on his stick, and he shot it in the open side at 6:56.

Booth, who scored his 10th this season, has goals in consecutive games.

Anderson took a tripping penalty, setting up New York's third power play, and Sillinger scored at 11:37. Anderson helped set up the goal when his clearing attempt hit Cullimore's right leg and dropped right in front of Sillinger.

"I saw an opening, but I delayed too long in shooting it," Anderson said. "I had the lane to get it out, but it closed down quickly."

The Panthers took their third lead at 16:39 when Horton's wrist shot from the top of the right circle beat DiPietro high to the far corner on a power play.

"I got the puck, and I tried to get it on net, and it went in," Horton said.

The Islanders had 18 shots in the final period, and Guerin tied it with 5:19 left in regulation as his long shot from the top of the right circle beat Anderson to the short side.

Anderson stopped Trent Hunter in front with 10 seconds left in regulation.

"It was kind of a weird game," Sillinger said. "Obviously, it was a good point.

"We found a way to get 40-plus shots. I just thought we left a lot of loose rebounds around him. I thought we had to do a better job around the net."

Notes: G Tomas Vokoun started the previous dozen games for Florida before getting the night off against the Islanders . . . The Panthers have won nine of their last 11 road games . . . The Islanders hit the 40-shot plateau for only the third time this season . . . Jiggs MacDonald will be filling in for regular TV play-by-play man Howie Rose on New York's upcoming Western Canadian road trip . . . One member of the 11,428 in attendance was "Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajak.


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