The Florida Panthers worked a set play to perfection, culminating in Brad Boyes hammering home a centering feed from Jonathan Huberdeau, to pull off a wild 4-3 overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche last night in Denver.
The win gave the Cats a 2-0-1 record on their current four-game road trip which concludes with Saturday's matchup against the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale.
Florida grabbed a 2-0 first period lead on goals by Brandon Pirri and Aleksander Barkov. They were the Panthers' first tallies in the opening period this season.
Jussi Jokinen found Pirri open in the high slot after Tomas Fleischmann forced an Avalanche turnover at the 4:43 mark. The goal was Pirri's first of the season.
The Panthers followed that up with a beautiful Aaron Ekblad pass to Barkov for an easy put away with 6:57 remaining in the frame. Boyes picked up the second helper on the play.
The Cats buzzed Colorado goalkeeper Reto Berra the rest of the period, but couldn't add to the lead, despite coming close a few times, including a stuff attempt by Huberdeau.
The momentum carried over into the second period and the Panthers appeared to be one more goal away from cruising to an easy win, until the officials got involved.
An iffy high-sticking call on Boyes quickly followed by a deserved, but originally uncalled until Patrick Roy started spouting off, delaying the game for shooting the puck over the glass on Erik Gudbranson gave the Avs a 5-on-3 advantage.
Tyson Barrie took care of the first penalty by ripping a hard drive past Roberto Luongo, Gabriel Landeskog followed that up by roofing a shot past the Panthers' goaltender from in-close 31 seconds later to tie the game.
The suddenly awake Avalanche took the lead a few minutes later when Alex Tanguay's shot found the back of the net after catching a piece of Sean Bergenheim. An Ekblad turnover in the neutral zone led to the Colorado rush.
Shortly after spark plug Derek MacKenzie and Marc-Andre Cliche squared off, the Panthers evened things up when Bergenheim deflected Dylan Olsen's point shot by Berra. Nick Bjugstad drew the second assist for his first point of the campaign.
In the third, the Panthers had to kill off a ghastly goaltender interference call on Bjugstad, that almost led to an Avs goal at the other end, but the bipolar zebras decided to let a Fleischmann trip go later in the frame.
(Video courtesy of Jose Morales via YouTube)
After letting Colorado get away with one in overtime, Brad Stuart got nabbed for tripping Barkov at 1:26, paving the way for Boyes' heroics.
This was an interesting, and exciting, one to watch. In the first period, we saw what the Cats are capable of when they are firing on all cylinders and staying out of the sin bin. The second period showed us, as if we already didn't know, that it's imperative that they clean up their act penalty-wise, especially since it's obvious that the refs don't let them get away with much of anything. The team showed some serious composure after Colorado reeled off three-straight goals, got the equalizer, and eventually a big two points. The Panthers have faced some serious adversity the first couple of weeks of the season, but they are getting better every game and have leveled their record at 2-2-2. Props to coach Gerard Gallant who put the Killer B's back together, which in turn seemed to firm up the second and third lines into something more cohesive. Next stop, Arizona!
Odds & Ends
- Roberto Luongo made 30 saves and is now 13-0-2 in his last 15 against Colorado. Lu picked up his 375th career win.
- In addition to setting up Pirri's goal, Jussi Jokinen drew an assist on the overtime game-winner. The points were his first as a Panther.
- The Cats took a season-high 36 shots at Reto Berra who finished with 32 stops.
- Not only did the Panthers win the Corsi battle against Colorado, they did it by registering shots in the high-scoring areas. Ten of their shots came off of passes in the home plate area in front of the net. According to LBC's resident adavanced stats guru Shane, that's just ridiculous.
- It was nice, and a relief, to see young centers Aleksander Barkov and Nick Bjugstad finally get on the score sheet with their first points of 2014-15. Bjugstad was a force to be reckoned with and came close a scoring a few times, while Barkov went 13 of 22 in the face-off dot.
- Ryan O'Reilly set up the first two Colorado goals and finished with 5 shots.
- Donny beat me to this in the Game Thread: Love the effort from Scottie Upshall, but the dumb penalties have got to stop.
- If the Panthers need someone to put in front of the media on a regular basis, they could do a lot worse than Brad Boyes. Boyes led the team goals last season, is heating up now, has a new contract, and is well-spoken, personable, and informative. Really enjoyed his post game interview last night.
- With 5 points in 3 games in the bank, I'd say this road trip is already a success, but it sure would be nice for the Cats to come home on a winning streak and over .500. Keep the pedal to the metal and beat Arizona. Might help draw some more fans to the BB&T Center if the vibes are undeniably good coming back to Sunrise.
- For more on last night's nail-biter, check out Mile High Hockey.