After Jamie McGinn and Aleksander Barkov scored goals in the first half of the final frame to erase a 2-1 deficit, the Cats were “awarded” their only man advantage of the night with 6:46 remaining in regulation.
Mike Hoffman, who was behind the net, sent the puck up the boards, where it eluded Jonathan Huberdeau, and ended up on the stick of Derek Stepan, who opened the scoring in the second period.
Stepan cruised up ice on a two-on-one break, toe-dragged his way by a diving Keith Yandle, who played the rush in dreadful fashion, and beat Roberto Luongo under the bar from the slot to tie the game at the 13:31 mark.
The Cats rode out three posts in the waning moments to get to overtime, where Vincent Trocheck was robbed by both goaltender Darcy Kuemper and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Luongo came up with huge saves on Alex Galchenyuk and Stepan.
Arizona was ruthless in the shootout, as Nick Cousins, Galchenyuk, and Vinnie Hinostroza all solved Luongo, while Huberdeau converted for the Panthers in the first round and Barkov was denied by Kuemper in the second.
Hoffman scored Florida’s first goal, from Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad, with a one-timed rocket from the left circle to even the game at one 14:44 into the second.
Ekman-Larsson countered 4:31 later with a nifty redirect of Clayton Keller’s pass that went up and over Luongo’s glove to give the Coyotes the lead back. The defenseman drew a holding call on rookie Jayce Hawryluk to put Arizona on a power play.
James Reimer started the game and stopped all ten of the shots he faced before departing the game with a lower body injury 32 seconds into the middle stanza. Luongo stopped 27 shots in relief, but looked a bit shaky at times and got completely abused in the shootout.
One wonders if this the game would have turned out differently had Reimer been able to go the distance or if the refs hadn’t called four penalties (to one on the home team) on the Cats in the third, helping to tire them out on the second night of a back-to back.
That said, Florida had 6:39 of regulation and five minutes of overtime to produce the game-winner and failed to do so, costing them a big point in the standings. On to Las Vegas...
Video Recap (courtesy of NHL.com)