(Sports Network) - The surprising New York Islanders will shoot for a fourth straight victory tonight when they visit the Florida Panthers for a battle at BankAtlantic Center.
The Islanders were picked by most hockey experts to finish last in the Atlantic, but New York has proved its detractors wrong in the early going and is currently tied with Pittsburgh for first place in the division.
New York began the year with a 1-1-2 record, but has rattled off three straight wins, including two overtime victories at the start of its current four-game road trip. The Islanders are 2-1-1 overall as the road team this season.
The Isles posted a 2-1 win in Toronto to begin the swing on Monday and then recorded a 3-2 victory Thursday in Tampa Bay.
Matt Moulson's winner over the Lightning was a controversial one and needed to be verified by a lengthy official review. Moulson hit the puck while surrounded by traffic near the right side of the ice, and it deflected off a stick into the air. Lightning goaltender Dan Ellis reached for the puck as it was crossing the goal line, managing to swipe it out with a backward motion.
That came 1:56 into overtime, but play was not stopped to review the play until there was 1:32 remaining. After about 10 minutes, the official announced that the puck completely crossed the goal line, giving the Islanders their third consecutive victory.
"We got some tips saying that guys thought it was in," said Islanders defenseman Mark Eaton. "Obviously you can't get too excited, you've got to wait for the official call. But when it came, obviously we were happy."
P.A. Parenteau and Michael Grabner also scored for New York, while Rick DiPietro made 28 saves.
Isles forward Josh Bailey, who is tied for second on the team with six points, missed Thursday's game with a hip flexor and is questionable for tonight's tilt. Defenseman Andrew MacDonald is also questionable for tonight with a hand injury sustained against the Lightning.
The Panthers had a two-game winning streak halted their last time out, dropping a 4-1 decision to Dallas in the middle test of a three-game homestand. Tom Wandell scored twice and Kari Lehtonen made 27 saves to lead the Stars to the easy win.
Tomas Vokoun, fresh off consecutive shutouts, gave up four goals on 23 shots and was pulled after two periods in the loss. Stephen Weiss scored the lone goal for Florida.
"Our effort, our attention to detail was disappointing. They were better in all of those categories," said Panthers head coach Pete DeBoer.
Florida is 1-1-0 as the host this year and will complete its October schedule on a three-game road trip following tonight's game.
The Panthers won three of four against New York last year and has taken 10 of 13 overall in the series. The Isles have also lost eight of nine and nine of their last 11 games at BankAtlantic Center.