Florida Panthers forward Reilly Smith has quietly enjoyed a strong season, and he reached a first on Monday.
According to Hockey Fights’ listings, Smith experienced his first NHL fight as he dropped the gloves with New York Islanders forward Anders Lee. (Lee isn’t a particularly common combatant, either, at least not yet in his career.)
You can watch that fight in the video above.
Smith was tagged with 17 penalty minutes in this game. Lee and the Islanders got the last laugh via a stunning 3-2 comeback, which you can read more about here.
If the Florida Panthers fall short of an Atlantic Division title, they can point to losses like these.
You’d think a stingy team with great goaltending like the Panthers would be able to protect a 2-0 lead in the third period, but that simply wasn’t the case on Monday. Instead, the New York Islanders stormed back for a 3-2 win, and they did so in regulation to boot.
Kyle Okposo kicked off a span in which the Islanders scored three goals in less than six minutes. Josh Bailey made it 2-2 while Cal Clutterbuck ended up notching the clinching tally.
Scoring that many goals in such a short period of time didn’t exactly involve a barrage of shots, either:
There’s still about a month remaining in the regular season, so the Panthers have plenty of time to put this loss behind them. And, for all we know, it could be the sort of thing that serves as a rallying point.
All that said, it sure stings tonight.
Earlier on Monday, PHT noted that the Los Angeles Kings decided to move Kris Versteeg onto a line with Milan Lucic and Anze Kopitar as he faces his former team in the Chicago Blackhawks.
It turns out that it didn’t take long for that move to yield impressive results for the Kings.
Los Angeles raced off to a 2-0 lead thanks to that line. Versteeg began the scoring with this goal:
… While Lucic showed some great finish in beating Corey Crawford for this tally, which included assists from Versteeg and Kopitar:
A quick start won’t guarantee a long-term assignment, but so far, so good for this trio.
The Buffalo Sabres signed goalie Jason Kasdorf, one of the final pieces of the Evander Kane trade, to an entry-level contract on Monday.
It wasn’t specified by the Sabres, but it appears to be a one-year deal (covering the rest of the 2015-16 season).
At least, those are the contract details added by Cap Friendly:
The Winnipeg Jets selected Kasdorf in the sixth round of the 2011 NHL Draft at 157th overall. He’s coming off a strong final college season with RPI, where he registered a .931 save percentage in 30 games played.
It sounds like injuries have been a stumbling block for Kasdorf, as the Buffalo News discussed in the summer:
Kasdorf has had an up-and-down collegiate career. He set a school record as a freshman with a 1.62 goals-against average while starting 22 games. He played only two games his sophomore season because of a dislocated shoulder.
He went 11-19-2 with a .902 save percentage this season while again missing time with an injury. He hopes a solid senior season will vault him to the pros.
That it did, although it remains to be seen if he can make a big impact.
It looks like he might get an early shot to impress, too.
After all this time, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Western Conference playoff race came down to another bout between the Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings.
These two teams still feature many of the same core faces (Patrick Kane, Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty and more …), and their franchises remain guided by steady hands.
In other words, Monday presents a treat on NBCSN, as we see two of the West’s best square off. For all we know, it could be a preview for the 2016 Western Conference Final match.
Along with watching it on NBCSN, you can stream the action via the link below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE