Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Anthony Beauvillier scored to lift the New York Islanders to a 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday in the opener of a best-of-five Eastern Conference qualifying round series in Toronto.
The seventh-seeded Islanders lost their final seven games (0-3-4) before the regular season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic on March 12. They will attempt to take a commanding series lead on Tuesday in Game 2 of the series.
Semyon Varlamov made 27 saves to secure his first postseason win since April 26, 2014.
Jonathan Huberdeau scored 23 seconds into the third period for the 10th-seeded Panthers, who lost six of their final nine regular season games (3-4-2). Sergei Bobrovsky recorded 26 saves after missing the final four regular-season games with a lower body injury.
The Islanders, who were the “home” team, took the lead exactly 12 minutes into the first period. Tom Kuhnhackl delivered a forecheck to Florida defenseman Riley Stillman along the boards and jarred the puck loose, which bounced to New York’s Derick Brassard. The center’s pass into the crease eluded the outstretched stick of Florida’s Brett Connolly and slid to Pageau, who scored on Bobrovsky. It was Pageau’s 13th postseason goal and his first since May 13, 2017.