Tonight's matchup with the Dallas Stars seemed to be cursed by the hockey gods from the get go, with the Cats missing both goalies, Willie Mitchell, Erik Gudbranson, Dave Bolland, and Jaromir Jagr to an assortment of injuries and the flu.
The bad luck would continue in the first period, with the Stars jumping out to a 2-0 lead due to some lucky bounces, one of them a deflection off of Brian Campbell's stick past Cats' starter Dan Ellis. Curtis McKenzie scored first for Dallas, picking up his third of the season, with Jason Demers and Shawn Horcoff collecting the assists.
Dmitry Kulikov and McKenzie dropped the gloves in what is assumed to be a response to Kulikov injuring Tyler Seguin the last two time these teams met. It seemed that the Stars would build on that fight, as Horcoff managed to get the puck behind Ellis for his team's second goal of the game.
Horcoff's goal was his ninth of the season, and was unassisted.
Ellis actually played well, and kept the Cats in it. He made a number of key saves, and didn't really let any soft goals in.
Just when it looked like this game would get out of hand, Brandon Pirri stepped in and scored his 13th goal of the season to cut the deficit in half. Vincent Trocheck caught the Stars in the middle of a line change, and fired the puck up to Pirri, who had plenty of time to pick his spot and bury the biscuit.
The first half of the second period was quiet, until Kulikov had to serve a holding penalty. Jussi Jokinen got control of the puck right as Kulikov stepped out of the box, and he netted his third goal of the season to tie the game up at 8:15 of the second period.
He was pretty stoked about it.
Alex Petrovic would do his best to try and get the Cats the lead, but couldn't beat Kari Lehtonen.
Fortunately for the Cats, that wouldn't matter, as Kulikov would get his Gordie Howe hat trick by making a beautiful play to break out of the zone and feed the puck up to Nick Bjugstad. Bjugstad would find a streaking Jonathan Huberdeau, who deposited the puck behind the netminder and picked up his 10th goal of the season.
Lehtonen would be pulled after Huberdeau's goal. He gave up 3 goals on 14 shots. The second period would end with the Panthers still up 3-2.
Ellis continued his great play in the third period, stopping Alex Goligoski on a breakaway and making a number of other saves that kept the Cats in front.
Unfortunately, it wouldn't last, and Goligoski would get his revenge by netting his third goal of the season with 7:39 left in the game. Rookie defenseman John Klingberg would get the lone helper on the goal, his 35th point of the season.
That would be the end of scoring in regulation, and the Cats would pick up a point by pushing the game to overtime. The Bruins lost in overtime tonight, meaning that picking up the extra point would pull the Panthers to within one point of the B's for the second Wild Card spot in the East.
Ellis would make the save on a botched 2 on 0, and the Jhonas Enroth would stone Steven Kampfer on a back door opportunity to keep the OT period scoreless, and the game would go to a shootout.
Pirri and Spezza were stopped in the first round, as were Trocheck and Klingberg in the second. Bjugstad would miss his opportunity, and Colton Sceviour would score to give Dallas the 4-3 victory over the Cats.
Be sure to check back in tomorrow for the A.M. recap for more LBC coverage of this tough loss to Dallas.