The Florida Panthers overcame another of their patented slow starts, and a two-goal deficit, to end a four-game road trip on high note with an impressive 7-4 win over the St. Louis Blues.
St. Louis took the lead just 48 seconds into the action when Paul Stastny collected a loose puck in front of the net and put it home after Ivan Barbashev’s pass for Joel Edmundson was broken up by Nick Bjugstad.
The Blues scored again at the 8:05 mark with the teams skating 4-on-4, using a series of quick passes to leave the Cats defense in tatters. Colton Parayko finished things off, lighting the lamp with ease after Vladimir Tarasenko found him with a cross. The secondary assist on the goal went to Brayden Schenn, his club-leading 27th helper.
With the clubs still down a man, the Panthers turned the tide when Aaron Ekblad took a pass from partner Keith Yandle and lifted a backhand over Jake Allen at 9:14. Denis Malgin picked up the secondary assist on Ekblad’s seventh.
Florida evened things up with 3:03 left in the frame. After an impressive rush, Evgenii Dadonov was forced wide before could shoot, but he smartly banked the puck off the back of the net to Jonathan Huberdeau, and his subsequent centering feed deflected in off Aleksander Barkov’s skate.
Tarasenko got loose on the starboard side and sniped James Reimer after taking a cross-ice pass from Barbashev 4:17 into the second to put the Blues back on top. Stastny drew the second assist to collect his second point of the tilt.
The determined Panthers would erupt for three goals in a 4:14 span to take control of the game and send Allen to the bench for Carter Hutton.
Vincent Trocheck’s hard center from behind the net hit Connor Brickley and came right to an open Radim Vrbata, who fired a wrister in off of Allen’s helmet for his fifth of the season at 12:23.
Huberdeau gave Florida its first lead of the night 3:32 later when he took possession of a Barkov faceoff win in the right circle and made a couple of slick moves before beating Allen blocker-side.
After dazzling with a goal in Detroit, defenseman Mike Matheson showed off his skills again, hitting Trocheck with a cheeky little backhand pass, allowing the driving center to slip between circles and snap the puck through Allen, chasing him from his crease with 3:23 remaining in the period.
With Reimer blunting the Blues comeback efforts in the third, the Cats came up with the dagger when Derek MacKenzie forced a turnover at Florida blue line that lead to Colton Sceviour’s shorthanded breakaway goal at the 13:02 mark.
St. Louis rookie Tage Thompson got open in the slot to finish off Vladimir Sobotka’s pass from below the goal line with a one-timer after the Russian tracked down Alex Pietrangelo’s dump in, cutting Florida’s lead back down to two with 2:31 left on the clock.
No stress. Trocheck notched his second goal into an empty net 37 seconds later with the assists going to Hubderdeau and Barkov, giving each of the Panthers high-scoring trio three points in the slump-busting win.
High marks for the Panthers, who came into this one after a tough shootout loss in Columbus, for finally getting the offense going and rallying past a good Blues team in need of a win. The seven goals were the team’s second-highest output of the season and it was the first time they scored more than three goals since December 22. The Cats return home to face the Calgary Flames on Friday before enjoying their bye week.
Full Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)
Sharps & Flats
- In addition to scoring twice, Vincent Trocheck picked up his 100th career assist on Radim Vrbata’s goal that tied the game at three and started a spree.
- Speaking of Vrbata, he returned from a five-game absence to bag his fifth goal as a Panther. The 36-year-old Czech finished with three shots in 11:49 TOI.
- Jake Allen, now 1-8 as of late, departed with 18 saves on 23 shots. Reliever Carter Hutton stopped 11 of 12 shots he faced.
- Not the greatest of games for James Reimer, but he came up with some big stops and finished with 26 saves in his 15th straight start to post his 12th win.
- Paul Stastny’s two-point night gives him 18 points (9G/9A) in 16 career games against the Panthers.
- He didn’t pick up a point, but Micheal Haley’s pesky play in the first period helped the Panthers awake from a sleepy start, earning him this morning’s Lausman Award.
- They might be blue, but St. Louis Game Time has you covered for the other side of Florida’s win, which completed the season-series sweep.