Last season, the Florida Panthers had an easy time of it with a very good Anaheim Ducks team. This year, the struggling Ducks turned the tables on the Cats, completing the season-series sweep (Florida did collect a loser point the first time out) with a 3-1 victory Thursday night at the BB&T Center.
The Ducks, coming off a well-played 3-2 loss in Nashville, dominated much of the first period, but were constantly thwarted by a locked-in Roberto Luongo.
Florida started to turn the tide late in the frame, with Frederik Andersen having to come up with big stops on both Derek MacKenzie and Jaromir Jagr. Aaron Ekblad, the hero in back-to-back wins over Tampa Bay, caught the post with just over five minutes to go.
Despite the Panthers late surge, the Ducks finished with a hefty 16-7 advantage in shots on goal after twenty minutes.
The action in the second period featured more of the same. Anaheim controlled the puck and peppered Luongo with seventeen more shots, including a shorthanded breakaway chance by Jakob Silfverberg, while the overwhelmed Cats again could only test Andersen with seven.
Cam Fowler finally opened the scoring at the 16:39 mark, with just four seconds remaining on a Jagr minor for holding, after some fine crisscross passing from the dangerous duo of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.
Luongo continued to put on a goaltending clinic in the third period to keep his club close, but Andrew Cogliano put the Panthers behind the eight ball with a shorthanded goal with 5:19 left in regulation.
After taking a cross ice pass from Ekblad, Nick Bjugstad took a tumble at the point, leading to a 2-on-1 break for the Ducks. Shawn Horcoff made a nice feed across and Cogliano calmly beat the Cats' netminder from in close to give the visitors a two-goal lead.
The Panthers quickly pulled within one, taking advantage of a Anaheim turnover in the neutral zone.
Jagr came up with the steal and centered an off-the-mark pass to Reilly Smith, who was able to deflect it to a onrushing Aleksander Barkov. Barkov gained the zone and let a wrister go, which caromed off Andersen's blocker and into the Ducks' cage.
Unfortunately, a late Cats comeback wasn't in the cards as Silfverberg picked up his first of the season with an empty-net goal with 1:08 left to go to ice the game. Getzlaf and defenseman Sami Vatanen combined on the helpers.
The Panthers continue their five-game homestand on Saturday when the New York Rangers visit Sunrise. Gerard Gallant's team will need a much better effort if they plan on taking two points from the top team in the Eastern Conference.
Tar & Feathers
- Aleksander Barkov picked up his first goal (and point) since missing ten games with a hand injury. Barkov now has seven points in nine games played.
- Jaromir Jagr's helper on the Barkov goal gave him a team-leading 15 points. The 43-year-old now has points in four of his last five outings.
- In addition to out-shooting the Panthers 41-25, the Ducks also outhit them by a 39-22 margin.
- Jakob Silfverberg seemed determined to end his season-long goal-scoring drought. The Swede finished with a game-high six shots on goal.
- Erik Gudbranson had a solid performance for the Cats. Big Guds dished out three hits, registered two shots on goal, had two blocks and posted an even rating.
- Shawn Thornton tagged back into the lineup and logged 7:54 TOI and two shots. The grizzled vet squared off with Patrick Maroon in a second period bout.
- The folks at war-on-ice have the advanced stats breakdown for you here.
- Stop by Anaheim Calling for the happier take on last night's tilt. Chances are we won't be seeing the Ducks again until 2016-17. Good riddance.
Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)