The Florida Panthers gagged up two leads before falling 5-4 in overtime to the Colorado Avalanche in a thrilling Friday night tilt from the BB&T Center in Sunrise.
Florida jumped out to an early two-goal when Jonathan Huberdeau slipped a shot by Philipp Grubauer and Denis Malgin sent Frank Vatrano away on a shorthanded breakaway that ‘The Tank’ finished off with aplomb at the 8:26 mark of the first.
Former Panthers draft pick Joonas Donskoi jammed in a rebound at 10:57 before Huberdeau struck again four minutes later after working a quick give-and-go with Aleksander Barkov.
The Avalanche flipped the script in the second period, tying the game on goals 32 seconds apart from Matt Nieto and Andre Burakovsky. Burakovsky goal was a beautiful wrist shot from the right circle that left Sergei Bobrovsky’s glove hanging in the wind like a shirt on a close line.
Brett Connolly would net a nice wrister of own at 14:05, just inside the short side post, to put the Cats briefly back on top before Burakovsky converted a rebound just sixteen ticks later. Anton Stralman set up Connolly’s marker after he stepped up to intercept a pass that thwarted a Colorado 3-on-2 for his second helper of the night.
The third period saw Grubauer flat-out rob Barkov with a desperate arm save from in close on Florida power play; Nieto beat Bobrovsky, but not the post; and finally, Grubauer came up large by stopping Huberdeau with time running out in regulation.
For those angry that the Panthers did not get a point last night, remember that Nieto had Bobrovsky dead to rights, so the Cats could’ve gotten nothing from this one.
In overtime, Grubauer made solid stops on Mike Matheson and Aaron Ekblad. On the ensuing rush after Ekblad’s shot, Burakovsky worked into the zone before finding an open Nathan MacKinnon, who pumped home the game-winner from just above the left circle.
The Panthers will need to regroup after the tough loss as they will be in Nashville tonight to face the rested Predators.
Peaks & Valleys
- The Panthers have built a four-game point streak, but they aren’t exactly piling up the points with just one win, two shootout losses and an overtime loss. If the Cats are going to play so many close games, they need to figure out to win past regulation.
- Have to hang the goat horns on defenseman Aaron Ekblad. Ekblad was close to Andre Burakovsky on both of his goals, but couldn’t quite come up with a play. You could chalk both of those instances to a being step off, a little bad luck or just give props to Burakovsky, but Ekblad really screwed the pooch on the overtime winner where instead of holding his side of the ice and defending the oncoming Nathan MacKinnon, he inexplicably came over to try and help Barkov with Burakovsky, who didn’t really need it, leaving MacKinnon time and space to pick his spot.
- Other Panthers who figured in the scoring with assists not mentioned above were Josh Brown, MacKenzie Weegar and Aaron Ekblad.
- Philipp Grubauer finished the game with 40 saves and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 36 shots. Once again ‘Bob’ made some really nice saves, but he did give up some real juicy rebounds that led to two of Colorado’s goals. I don’t think many of us would have Sergei with a 4.07 GAA after six starts.
- In addition to potting the first Avalanche goal, Joonas Donskoi chipped in two assists.
- Jonathan Huberdeau produced his first two-goal of the season and led all shooters with eight shots on goal.
- In AHL action, the Springfield Thunderbirds were blanked 1-0 by the Hartford Wolf Pack. Chris Driedger stopped 22 of 23 in the hard luck loss.
- Check out the other side of the mountain at Mile High Hockey. If you are an early bird, their recap isn’t up yet, but give it a bit due to that pesky time difference.