Panthers interim coach Peter Horachek has been pleading with his team to get off to better starts, get balanced production from his lines and turn outstanding chances into goals.

Check, check and check.

The Panthers got goals from their three young centers — none of whom have played more than 53 NHL games — in the first period and held on for a 4-2 victory over the improving New York Islanders Tuesday night at the BB&T Center.

Throw in a shorthanded goal by a slumping Scottie Upshall, another solid outing by goalie Tim Thomas (6-1-2 in his last nine) and it was nearly a perfect game by the Panthers, although they did go 0 for 5 on their 30th-ranked power play to extend their power outage to seven games (0 for 22).

Picky, picky, picky.

"I wanted to make sure you guys knew we could score some goals, so we tried to do it early in the game,'' joked Horachek to the media. "When you get out to a lead, you know they're going to come and you kind of get on your heels and sit back and they start to put a big push on. … It's better to be there than on the other side.

"The guys battled down to the very end and Timmy played his normal solid self.''

The Panthers, 4-1-2 in their last seven games, snapped the Islanders' four-game winning streak and also ended their impressive seven-game road victory run, one shy of tying a franchise record set in 1980-81.

The Panthers, who had been doubled by the opposition in the first period (44-22), scored three goals in any period for the first time since their opening-night 4-2 victory over the Stars. They had scored just three goals in regulation during their recent 1-1-1 road trip.