Originally posted on Islanders Hockey Blog  |  Last updated 2/12/12

Uniondale, NY -- The Islanders playoff hopes took another hit this afternoon with a 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers. The Islanders scored the games opening goal, but saw their lead evaporate after the Panthers tied the game at one in the first and scored three unanswered goals in the second period.

“It wasn’t a very good first two periods for us,” a frustrated John Tavares said. “We did some good things in the third period, but not good enough, especially in a big game like this.”

The Islanders jumped to an early 1-0 lead in the first after PA Parenteau gave Frans Nielsen a good breakout pass. Nielsen finished the play off by firing one past Jose Theodore on the Islanders first shot of the game.

The lead would last less than a period. Tyson Strachan scored off the face-off in the Islanders end to make tie the game at one late in the first period. The Panthers blew the game wide open in the second beginning with a Tomas Fleischmann goal early in the period. Kris Versteeg made it 3-1 off a power play goal at 11:41 and Jack Skille put the dagger in the Isles heart when he scored to make it 4-1.

“We had the opening goal we wanted and had a decent start for the first five,” Tavares said. “But then we just were not playing our game for a good period and a half… Some breakdowns and we didn’t capitalize on some of our opportunities and I don’t think we made it as difficult on them until later on in the game.”

“We didn’t come out and play very hard today,” Matt Martin added after the game. “Once again, we knew what was at stake…another big (game) against Florida and we don’t come out and play well enough.”

A win today would have moved the Islanders into 11th in the east and six points out of a playoff spot. Instead they remain eight points out with tough matchups against the Jets and Blues.

“These games are so important at this time of year with where we are in the standings,” Tavares said. “There is no excuse for us to not be ready to play or have our feet moving or have our game going off the bat. We have to improve in that area.”

“We gotta take a look in the mirror here,” Martin later said. “Figure out what we wanna be. We wanna be a playoff team, so we gotta come play every night here on out and bring our best effort.”

After the game the question was raised whether the back-to-back games had any affect on the Islanders play. Matt Martin didn’t believe it did.

“They played an afternoon game yesterday too,” he said. “There’s no reason for them to have more jump than us. They’re on the road and we played both games at home. I don’t think that’s really an excuse, I think we just didn’t prepare ourselves well enough for the game today”

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