The Dallas Stars might of thought they had two points in the bag when they took a 2-0 lead on the Florida Panthers. Unfortunately, for them, that particular score sometimes triggers the best out of the Cats. The Stars found that out the hard way as the Panthers scored the last three goals of the game to snap their five-game losing skid with a hard-fought 3-2 victory yesterday at the BB&T Center.
Jamie Benn opened the scoring just 45 seconds into the game, beating Roberto Luongo on a great individual effort for his 33rd goal of the season.
Dallas carried the play for the rest of the period, as the disinterested Panthers had trouble staying out of the penalty box, but Luongo came up big time after time to keep the deficit at one.
The Stars finally cashed in on a double-minor to Sean Bergenheim, which carried over into the second period, when Tyler Seguin lit the lamp, with the help of a tip from Ed Jovanovski's stick blade, just 39 seconds in.
After a wisely used timeout from coach Peter Horachek, the Cats awoke and started to tilt the ice in their favor. They got rewarded when an Erik Gudbranson shot hit a Dallas player, then Scottie Upshall, and bounced into the net past a startled Kari Lehtonen. Brandon Pirri picked up the secondary helper on Upshall's 15th goal.
Pirri tied the game with 57 seconds left in the middle frame with a one-timer to cap off some sweet passing from Jimmy Hayes and Bobby Butler, who collected his first point as a Panther.
The playoff wanting Stars regained their focus and had the better chances in the third, but could not solve a determined Luongo.
Bergenheim deflected a nice, hard pass from Colby Robak into the yawning net to provide the game-winner with 4:31 remaining in regulation. Scott Gomez fed Robak for his 10th assist of the season to start the play.
Luongo, who finished with 35 stops, robbed Benn with a fantastic stick save late in the game to preserve win number 28 for the Panthers.
Not only was it nice to see the Panthers finally get back in the win column, it was great to see them rise to the occasion, albeit after another slow start, and play spoiler against a Dallas team that is fighting for its playoff life. When the Cats fully apply themselves, they can definitely impress. The million dollar (or better yet, average NHL coaching salary) question is why they don't do it more often. The Panthers have three games left, and all of them have playoff implications for the opponent, whether it's just seeding or more importantly making it into the postseason or not. It will be interesting to see if they can throw another monkey wrench or two (or three) into the Flyers', Maple Leafs', or Blue Jackets' season.
Odds & Sods
- With his second period goal, Scottie Upshall regained the club scoring with 36 points. With only three games remaining, It's not looking like anyone on the roster is going to hit the forty mark.
- Despite the loss, Dallas still holds a one point lead on the Phoenix Coyotes for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. The two teams will meet on the final day of the season. Obviously, that one could be huge.
- With 5 points in his last 4 games, Brandon Pirri is officially hot. Pirri has registered 12 points (6G/6A) in 18 games since Dale Tallon acquired him from the Chicago Blackhawks, rescuing him from AHL Rockford.
- Tyler Seguin's goal was his 36th of the season. Seguin leads the Stars with 82 points, a career-high for the 22-year-old superstar in the making.
- The Panthers swept the season series from Dallas. The Cats beat the Stars 4-2 to open the season.
- Making the Florida win that much sweeter, Edmonton knocked off Anaheim last night to keep the Panthers in 29th place overall.
- Put on your ten-gallon hat and mosey on over to Defending Big D for the sadder side of this result.
- I'll wrap this up with a great tweet from Roberto Luongo, who is now 5-6-1 with a 2.45 GAA in his return to the Panthers: