Czerkawski's hat trick lifts Isles over Florida
APRIL 9, 2000
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The Florida Panthers hope their last two games are
not an indication of things to come.
After losing in overtime to New Jersey on Saturday, the Panthers
ended the regular season with a 3-2 loss on Sunday to the New York
"I didn't like the way we played today, not at all," Panthers coach
Terry Murray said. "The last dozen games, we got down to work and
straightened some things out. But today, each one of the lines was
looking to do something out of the ordinary."
Pavel Bure scored both Florida goals, finishing with 59 as the
Panthers were denied a 100-point season (43-33-6-6).
Islanders leading scorer Mariusz Czerkawski accounted for all three
Islanders goals and finished with 35 for the season. It was the third
hat trick of Czerkawski's career, and the only one registered by a
member of the Islanders this season.
"I'm very pleased for him," Islanders coach Butch Goring said. "I
challenged him at the start of the season to be the offensive guy and
he did that. I also wanted him to be more responsible defensively and
to take the body, and he worked hard all year at doing that. And what
this proves is that you can play defensively and still score 35
Bure opened the scoring at 8:18 of the second period when he beat
goalie Roberto Luongo with a one-timer off a perfect backhand, cross-
ice pass from Oleg Kvasha.
Czerkawski tied the game at 12:28 on the power play when his
centering pass from the right corner deflected off defenseman Robert
Svehla's skate and past goalie Trevor Kidd.
Czerkawski put New York in front for good 1:40 later on another power
play goal. His right point slap shot hit a Panther stick and got over
The hat trick goal at 7:13 of the final period was the game-winner.
Linemate Brad Isbister gloved down an attempted clear, then found
Czerkawski alone in the right circle. His high wrist shot beat Kidd
to the far side.
"I was happy for Chow (Czerkawski)," Isbister said. "I think I jumped
higher than him.
"He deserves it. He carried our team offensively for most of the
The celebration was short-lived, as Bure struck again at 12:55 on a
Panthers' power play. He stuffed the puck past Luongo from the right
"He's a tremendous talent," Luongo said. "He and Jaromir Jagr are the
two best players in the game right now."
The Islanders held Florida off the rest of the way, including killing
a penalty in the final two minutes. Bure had a chance to tie the
game, but the puck bounced over his stick.
The missed chance for 60 goals didn't bother Bure afterwards.
"After having the (knee) surgery, I'm amazed I wound up with 59
goals," Bure said. "Every season is different. This year, things are
going well. Next year, who knows? I may wind up with 20 goals."
The Panthers will face the Devils in the first round of the playoffs,
and Murray said that the biggest thing that his team has to fear is
New Jersey's experience.
"Even though they may not have played that well lately, experience is
something that you can capture immediately," Murray said.
Bure is not thrilled about playing such a defensively-oriented team
as the Devils.
"It's not really fun when the score is 2-1, but that's New Jersey
playing their type of game," Bure said. "It's the playoffs though,
and you have to accept it and be patient."
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