Nick Bjugstad scored in regulation and then bagged the game-winner in round four of the shootout to give the Florida Panthers a 2-1 win over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.
Roberto Luongo (43 saves) out-dueled his counterpart Frederik Andersen (42 saves) to pick up his fifth win of the season.
After a scoreless first period that saw the Cats out-shoot the Buds 15-7, including the game’s first eleven, Bjugstad lit the lamp with a bank shot from behind the net that went off defenseman Connor Carrick’s skate and then Andersen stick with 4:44 remaining in the second. Vincent Trocheck and rookie Henrik Haapala collected the assists on Bjugstad’s fifth of the campaign.
The tenuous lead stood up until Nazem Kadri tied the game 13:58 into the final frame. Kadri took a pass on a 3-on-1 break from Connor Brown and snapped the puck by a stretched out Luongo from the right circle. Patrick Marleau earned the secondary assist from spring his teammates loose.
After overtime failed to produce a winner, the game went to the skills competition where Auston Matthews, Jonathan Huberdeau and Mitch Marner came up empty before Aleksander Barkov put the Panthers up in the bottom of the second with a one-handed strike.
Marleau countered in the top of the third and unsuccessful attempts by Trocheck and Tyler Bozak, Bjugstad used his long reach to avoid Andersen’s poke check and scored into a yawning net to give Florida the bonus point.
The Panthers get the next two days off from game action before facing the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday. The last time the two teams met in March, Florida drilled Chicago by a 7-0 count, so the Panthers will need to be at their best, as the Blackhawks will be looking for a bit of revenge to along with the two points at stake.
Full Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)
Turkey & Gravy
- Nick Bjugstad’s second period goal gave him three in the last six games. If Bjugstad, keep up that pace, or close to it, it would help the Panthers in the secondary scoring department greatly.
- Henrik Haapala logged 13:58 of ice time in his NHL debut and in addition to his assist, was credited with one hit and finished with a +1 rating.
- Nazem Kadri’s goal extended his point streak to a career-best eight games. Kadri has 21 points in 21 games against Florida.
- Auston Matthews failed to come up with a point, but led all skaters with eight shots on goal.
- Vincent Trocheck assist allowed him to take over the team scoring lead with 22 points.
- Toronto forward Mitch Marner played in 100th NHL game.
- Aleksander Barkov has now converted 12 his last 16 attempts in an incredible 75% conversion rate.
- Pension Plan Puppets has the other side of the first of four between the Cats and Buds.