Red-hot winger Jimmy Hayes scored two power-play goals for the Panthers, including the game-tying marker late in the third period, but the Cats came up empty against Canucks goaler Eddie Lack in the skills competition.
Nicklas Jensen was the only shooter who hit paydirt in the shootout. Jensen caught the post, but the puck bounced off Luongo's pad and over the goal line.
Hayes opened the scoring by deflecting home Tom Gilbert's point shot at the 16:28 of the first period. Brandon Pirri also picked up a helper on the play.
The Canucks struck back quickly, evening the game on a Dan Hamhuis' tally, which caught the skate of Colby Robak on its way past a screened Luongo.
Vancouver scored again 53 seconds later when Alex Burrows found Jensen, who ripped a one-timer past Brother Louie, open in the slot to give the visitors the lead after one.
After a scoreless second period, Florida tied the game on a Vincent Trocheck wraparound goal. Quinton Howden set the play up after a Vancouver turnover by bulling his way in on Lack.
Once again, the Panthers couldn't keep the good times going as Scottie Upshall got called for tripping in the offensive zone.
The Canucks cashed in 75 seconds after the Trocheck goal when Burrows rapped a rebound past Luongo from in tight.
Florida's PK came up big, killing off a double-minor late in the game, setting the stage for Hayes' second of the afternoon.
Hayes deflected Brian Campbell's shot into Lack and then knocked in his own rebound for his ninth goal of the season. Pirri picked up the secondary assist for his second point of the game.
Unfortunately, none of the trio of Nick Bjugstad, Brad Boyes, and Pirri could solve Lack to extend the shootout, sending the Panthers to their fourth loss in the last five games.
This was a fun one to watch as both teams came to play and looked very interested in taking the win in this subplot-filled contest. That both came away with at least a point was the right result. The Panthers just couldn't deal with prosperity today as they immediately gagged up the lead in the first period and then allowed the Canucks to score right after they tied the game at two, forcing yet another comeback. A little more in the solid effort and/or smarts department and the Cats may very well have been the side that came away with two points. At this stage the wins and losses don't really matter too much to me, I am really enjoying watching some of the younger players (Hayes, Pirri, Howeden & Trocheck) come of age, and if the Panthers are going to lose games down the stretch I'd much rather see them scoring goals in the process. Sorting out the problems in their own end is going to have to wait until next season.
Odds & Ends
- Big day for Alex Burrows, who finished with a goal and two assists. Burrows only had 8 points in 37 games coming into today's game.
- The third period almost had a couple more goals find their way into the net. Kevin Bieksa bailed out Lack with a key skate save on Robak, and Luongo robbed Burrows to keep the Cats within one.
- Jonathan Huberdeau left the game with an upper-body injury in the first period. Unfortunate, as Hubs has finally been showing some signs of life lately. Could it be time for the (Bobby) Butler to do it in a Cats uniform or will it be Drew Shore again?
- The frustration of Flash continued as Tomas Fleischmann had Lack dead to rights in overtime but just couldn't get the shot off.
- After going scoreless in his first three with Florida, center Brandon Pirri has 5 points in his last 4 games. Pirri is looking like a keeper.
- Lack made 26 saves to best his former battery-mate Luongo, who finished with 29 stops.
- The Panthers power play was downright humming today, going an impressive 2 for 4. Hayes is doing a great job parking himself in front and creating havoc.
- The retooled Cats head west for their next four with stops in San Jose, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Anaheim on the slate.
- Check out Van City's Nucks Misconduct for more on the game.