The Florida Panthers opened the Gerard Gallant era with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars last night in front of a sparse crowd at the BB&T Center. Ales Hemsky scored the only goal in the shootout and Jussi Rynnas denied Dave Bolland in the fourth round to seal the win.
Patrick Eaves powered the Stars to a 2-0 first period lead. The veteran forward scored a power play marker at the 9:12 mark and then set up Kevin Connauton for a tip-in goal five minutes later.
The Panthers finally got on the board at 11:39 of the second period when defenseman Shane O'Brien, in camp on a PTO, beat Rynnas with Scottie Upshall and Jonathan Huberdeau collecting the helpers.
Florida tied the game with 50 seconds left in the frame when Bolland scored with the Cats on a power play, hopefully a sign of things to come this season, with the assists going to defensemen Dmitry Kulikov and Colby Robak.
Brandon Pirri gave the Panthers their only lead of the night, teaming up with Vincent Trocheck on the goal that made it 3-2 at the 1:21 mark of the third. Guess the conversion to wing is working out for Pirri so far.
Unfortunately, Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski would beat Michael Houser later in the frame, from Tyler Seguin, to forge the tie that lead to overtime and then Hemsky's heroics in the skills competition.
Houser entered the game at the start of the final period and finished with 19 stops on 20 shots as Dallas turned up the heat in the final 25 minutes of action.
Odds & Ends
- Real nice to see Bolland light the lamp in his first game with the Cats. The veteran center went 10 of 19 on face-offs and logged 21:29 TOI. He was named the game's second star.
- Dan Ellis, in what could be his last appearance in game action in Sunrise, got the start and wrapped up his two periods of duty with 9 saves on 11 shots. That's a save percentage of .818.
- Special teams still not so special: the Panthers penalty kill went 5 of 6 which wasn't too shabby, while the power play was a disappointing 1 for 8.
- 2014 second-rounder Jayce Hawryluk, who was not on the morning roster that was kicked around by the press, suited up for the game and finished with 1 SOG, a -1 rating, and got called for goaltender interference right after the Pirri goal.
- Jack Campbell started the game for Dallas and stopped all 11 Florida shots he faced.
- Nick Bjugstad led the Cats with 4 SOG.
- The Panthers will get a couple more days of practice in before heading to Music City for Saturday's doubleheader versus the Nashville Predators.