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Islanders use third-period barrage to come back on Panthers

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Cal Clutterbuck (r.) celebrates his go-ahead goal in the third period with teammate Matt Martin as the Islanders complete a furious comeback against Florida on Monday night.Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images

Cal Clutterbuck (r.) celebrates his go-ahead goal in the third period with teammate Matt Martin as the Islanders complete a furious comeback against Florida on Monday night.

Late in the second period, a male fan yelled from the upper bowl at Barclays Center for the lethargic Islanders to “wake the (eff) up!”

Jack Capuano didn’t even enter the locker room after what several players dubbed the “worst two periods of the season,” but some wholesale line juggling in the third sparked a crazy three-goal comeback as the Isles turned a would-be clunker into a stolen 3-2 victory over Florida on Monday night in Brooklyn.

“I didn’t go in there between the second and third… I didn’t want to break anything, number one,” Capuano said, adding he let captain John Tavares and the other team leaders take charge of the second intermission. “This is Johnny’s team, and I could tell he was frustrated on the bench.

“We were flat and we had guys that for whatever reason didn’t start on time… The third period we made a push and played to our identity and… got two big points.”

After being outshot 18-11 through two periods, the Isles awoke and scored three times in the third against long-ago Isles goalie Roberto Luongo to halt a two-game mini slide. Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey buried goals 81 seconds apart to erase a 2-0 deficit by 14:11 before Cal Clutterbuck snuck in a hard-angle backhander with 1:39 remaining in regulation.

“Not how you draw it up, but that third period, that was good stuff,” Clutterbuck said.

Thomas Greiss, who was signed to be the Isles’ backup goalie last July, is now the starter for at least the remainder of the regular season, with Jaroslav Halak suffering a groin injury last week that will sideline him a minimum of six weeks.

Anders Lee (l.) drops the gloves with Reilly Smith as the Islanders pick up a win.Bryan R. Smith/AP

Anders Lee (l.) drops the gloves with Reilly Smith as the Islanders pick up a win.

Greiss kept the Isles close in stopping 23 of 25 shots, allowing goals to Aleksander Barkov in the first period and Nick Bjugatad (power play) in the second.

The Isles (38-21-8) remain in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 84 points, one point behind the Rangers with two games in hand and four ahead of the fourth-place Penguins with one in hand entering Tuesday’s visit to Pittsburgh.

“Slowly we’re going to make up those games and those games are only good if you win them,” Clutterbuck said.  

ON THE ISLE

Defenseman Calvin de Haan was back in the Isles’ lineup after missing nine of the previous 11 games with a lower-body injury. Forward Mikhail Grabovski (upper-body) was activated off the injured list, but he remained out “to get him a few more days,” Capuano said.

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