The Florida Panthers got two goals and two assists from sophomore center Nick Bjugstad to cruise to a 6-2 win over the usually mighty Anaheim Ducks. The four points were a career-high for Bjugstad, who had only posted three in the season's first fourteen games.
Al Montoya made 33 saves to pick up his first win as a Panther and veteran Brad Boyes ended a recent cold spell with two goals.
Vincent Trocheck opened the scoring with his first of the season at 4:40 of the first period. Trocheck took a cross ice pass from Tomas Kopecky on a 2-on-1 break and ripped a shot off the water bottle behind Ducks keeper Frederik Andersen. Scottie Upshall picked up the second assist.
Anaheim tied the game later in the frame when Hampus Lindholm's wrist shot deflected off Derek MacKenzie past a startled Montoya.
Boyes got his first of the game early in the second period to give the Panthers the lead back by deflecting Jonathan Huberdeau's pass into a yawning net. Bjugstad picked up the secondary helper for the first point of his big night.
Bjugstad made it 3-1 Cats, just under three minutes later, by powering his way to the net and beating Andersen from in close. Jussi Jokinen and Brian Campbell collected the helpers on Bjugs' third of the season. Jason LaBarbera relieved Andersen after the goal.
Huberdeau scored his first goal since opening night midway through the frame with a tip-in of Aaron Ekblad's point shot. Bjugstad picked up his second assist of the game on the play.
Florida wasn't done scoring in the second period. Boyes got his second with the Cats on a power play to extend their lead to 5-1. Boyes' pass attempt to Aleksander Barkov deflected off Ducks defender Josh Manson past a helpless LaBarbera. Jokinen and Campbell combined again on the assists.
Andersen returned to the Anaheim net in the third period and surrendered the Cats final goal. Bjugstad took a short pass from Boyes and blasted the puck home to give the Panthers a five-goal lead. Dylan Olsen picked up the second assist by jumping up to get the puck to Boyes.
Andrew Cogliano completed the scoring with a meaningless goal with 1:45 left on the clock.
What a way to start off the road trip! The Panthers second period explosion made this one a laugher, and how nice was it to see Bjugstad getting rewarded, Huberdeau finally scoring again, and the streaky Boyes lighting the lamp? The offense is definitely on the upswing and with Cats getting great goaltender and stout defense most nights, that should mean more victories as the season carries on. The Cats definitely caught the Ducks at the right time, fresh off a tough loss to rival Los Angeles, but that should not take anything away from the hammering Florida delivered last night. The Panthers will face those same Kings Tuesday night at the Staples Center.
Odds & Ends
- The win was Florida's first in Anaheim since November 9, 2008. Thank the line of Bjugstad, Boyes and Huberdeau, which combined for 9 points on 5 goals and 4 assists.
- The two assists gave Jussi Jokinen the team scoring lead with 11 points.
- Corey Perry returned to the Ducks lineup after missing 5 games with the mumps. Perry and fellow Ducks star Ryan Getzlaf were held without a point.
- Rookie phenom Aaron Ekblad's assist gave him points in four straight games.
- Rough night for the Duck goalies. Frederik Andersen finished with just 11 saves on 15 shots, while Jason LaBarbera stopped 12 of 14.
- The Panthers' PK continued its recent run of fine play, killing off both of the Ducks opportunities. Florida's penalty kill has climbed up to 20th in the league.
- In addition to his four points, Nick Bjugstad lead the team in shots with 5 and finished with a stellar +4 rating.
- For the other side of the Cats' rout, visit the fine, feathered Anaheim Calling.