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Recap: Panthers fall 3-2 to Ducks on late Ritchie goal

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Cats can’t solve John Gibson in the third period

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Florida Panthers Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Ritchie scored his second goal of the game with 1:28 remaining in regulation to give the Anaheim Ducks a 3-2 win over the struggling Florida Panthers. Ritchie also bagged the game-winner for Ducks in Tuesday night’s win over Tampa Bay.

Anaheim jumped ahead just 15 seconds into the first period when Josh Manson shot from the point bounced off Bogdan Kiselevic and went past James Reimer. Carter Rowney beat Juho Lammikko on an offensive zone draw and Brain Gibbons dropped the puck back to Manson, who notched his third goal, which the second-fastest goal in Ducks history

John Gibson stymied the Cats with fifteen saves in the frame and Frank Vatrano caught the cross bar with ten seconds left, allowing his club to hit the dressing with its one-goal lead intact.

Florida finally got on the board at the 3:01 mark of the second. After taking a pass from Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov spotted Aaron Ekblad cruising into right circle and the defenseman drilled the pass from behind the net over Gibson’s shoulder to tie the game up at ones.

It only took the Panthers’ power play seven seconds to light the lamp after Marcus Pettersson headed off to the penalty box for tripping Evgenii Dadonov at 9:16. Keith Yandle deftly gloved down a clearing attempt at the blue line and quickly went cross-ice to Huberdeau, whose shot was deflected home by Dadonov. The goal was Dadonov’s tenth season.

Yandle played in his 738th consecutive game and passed former Panther Jay Bouwmeester for the sixth-longest streak in NHL history.

Unfortunately, that was all the offense the Cats would be able to muster as Gibson stopped the final 16 shots he faced.

Ritchie evened the tilt 3:28 later by tipping in Pettersson’s shot from the left point. Adam Henrique made a nice bank pass off the boards to get the puck back to Pettersson for a quick shot after Keifer Sherwood forced Mark Pysyk into a turnover behind the Florida cage. Hats to off to Ritchie for getting a stick on the drive, which was going to be wide of the net.

The late winner came after Ryan Getzlaf separated Mike Hoffman from the puck deep in the Panthers end. Ritchie and Getzlaf worked a give-and-go in the slot with the final pass ticking off the skate Ondrej Case before Ritchie finished with wrister that beat Reimer blocker side.

A very disappointing result for the Cats, who ended up carrying much of the play and outshooting Anaheim by a whopping 44-25 margin. As we have seen too many times this season, the Panthers just couldn’t come up with a goal with the game on the line. Hard to fault James Reimer for this loss. He had a pretty solid outing and no chance on the first two Ducks goals. Poor puck management in the defensive zone led to both of Ritchie’s goals and Lammikko’s face-off loss was the culprit on the early goal by Manson. Florida continues to play decent hockey, but they are still finding ways to lose instead of win. That was the eighth one-goal loss of the season and second on the homestand. Ouch... Things don’t get any easier with revamped and revitalized Buffalo Sabres coming to town on Friday.

Video Recap (courtesy of NHL.com)