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Smith stays hot as Panthers even series with Islanders

Dhiren Mahiban
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(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Smith stays hot as Panthers even series with Islanders

Dhiren Mahiban
By:

Reilly Smith continued his hot start to the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs scoring a goal and adding an assist as the Florida Panthers evened their series against the New York Islanders with a 3-1 win on Friday night.

Reilly Smith continued his hot start to the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs scoring a goal and adding an assist as the Florida Panthers evened their series against the New York Islanders with a 3-1 win on Friday night.

According to Elias Sports, Friday marked the first time in NHL history two Florida-based teams each won a playoff game on the same day.

Smith, who had a goal and two assists in the Panthers Game 1 loss on Thursday night, opened the scoring at 4:32 of the first period. The 25-year-old then set up Nick Bjugstad’s first career playoff goal, the eventual game winner, at 6:17 of the second period.

Smith entered the series with five playoff points in 12 career postseason games all with the Boston Bruins during the spring of 2014.

The Toronto native now has three goals and two assists through the first two games of the series against the Islanders.

“The puck is just following me around,” Smith told the Panthers’ broadcast postgame. “I think my line mates are doing a great job of finding me. It seems like things are opening up a lot so hopefully it keeps this way. We’re creating a lot of opportunities (Bjugstad’s) been awesome, he’s controlled a lot of the play and he’s helping me out.”

Roberto Luongo stopped 41 shots for his first playoff win in a Panthers uniform. The 37-year-old, who entered the game 3-5-1 with a 2.88 GAA and a .905 save percentage in the second game of back-to-backs dating back to the 2010-11 season, picked up his first postseason win since June 10, 2011 – Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final.

"It's 1-1 and it's important to play as well as you can in every game of the series," Luongo said per George Richards of the Miami Herald. "We'll enjoy tonight but get back to work (Saturday). (Wins) all fell good; it's the playoffs. It's 1-1 and nothing's been accomplished here."

Tempers flared between the two clubs with 1:27 remaining in the second period. Five roughing minors were handed out.

Islanders forward Casey Cizikas picked up a double-minor for roughing after he hit Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad with a low blow.

Cizikas has a history of low blows. During Game 5 of last April’s series between the Islanders and Capitals Cizikas took exception to a hit from Tom Wilson and responded with a spear to Wilson’s groin. Cizikas was not penalized for the play.

John Tavares had the lone goal for the Islanders. The captain now has goals in six straight games dating back to the regular season. Tavares' nine shots on goal were the most by an Islanders' player in a playoff game since Alexei Yashin on April 28, 2002 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, per Sportsnet.

Game 3 of the series goes Sunday in Brooklyn.

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Smith stays hot as Panthers even series with Islanders