The Florida Panthers inability to score in the second and/or third period continued to plague the club in a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars Saturday night at the BB&T Center.
Florida latest defeat on home ice left them stranded two points behind the New York Islanders for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, with the Isles having played one fewer game.
Dallas jumped out to an early lead when Tyler Seguin’s quick crossing pass left James Reimer out of position and Jamie Benn able to tap the puck into a gaping net. Jason Spezza picked up the secondary assist on Benn’s team-leading 24th goal.
The Panthers evened the scored on Jonathan Huberdeau’s power-play goal 5:19 later. Jonathan Marchessault whipped a backhand pass across to Huberdeau, who buried it from the right faceoff dot. Aleksander Barkov drew the second assist on the play for his 39th point of the season.
Kari Lehtonen, who finished with 41 saves, would not yield another goal and the Stars struck late to deny the struggling Cats a chance to close the gap on the Islanders.
The game-winner came with 1:07 left in regulation after Benn knocked down Vincent Trocheck’s clearing attempt at the blue line and and fed Seguin, who found John Klingberg streaking into the zone. Klingberg had a step on Reilly Smith and his wrister beat Reimer blocker side to end Dallas’ six-games road losing streak.
Florida is now 1-5 in its last six home games. The Cats will host the New York Rangers on Tuesday and the Minnesota Wild on Friday, so ooh child, things aren’t gonna get easier.
Giants & Dwarfs
- Florida’s penalty kill denied all three Stars power-play opportunities to move into a first place with Boston atop the NHL with a stellar 86.1 percentage.
- For the second straight game Aaron Ekblad led all shooters. After firing nine shots on goal against Philadelphia, young Eggs recorded seven against Dallas.
- In addition to setting up both his team’s goals, Tyler Seguin had a game-high six shots for the Stars.
- James Reimer delivered another quality start, wasted unfortunately, finishing with 32 saves. Reimer’s GAA dropped to 2.42 and his save percentage rose to .922.
- Dallas forward Remi Elie made his NHL debut against the Cats. The 21-year-old registered two shots, a hit and a takeaway in 15:29 TOI.
- Jonathan Huberdeau’s power-play marker gave the crafty winger 12 points in 13 games since his return from the Achilles injury on February 3.
- Since scoring that electrifying game-winning goal against St. Louis, Vincent Trocheck has gone cold. Florida’s leading scorer has just one goal and no assists in the last six games.
- Defending Big D has the other side of the Stars win, which gave birth to a series spilt.