Like Sunday’s game in Anaheim, the Cats entered the final frame locked in a 2-2 tie, thanks to a pair of Aleksander Barkov goals, but couldn’t find a way to forge ahead and were done by Alex Radulov’s goal at the 10:32 mark. Unlike the game in Anaheim, the Panthers didn’t really deserve to win this one, as Dallas carried the play and outshot the Cats by a wide 36-22 margin. That said, they could have pulled it out had they been able to muster up one more goal and play a little cleaner in their own end.
On the winning goal, Tyler Seguin knocked down Mike Matheson’s clearing attempt near the line and quickly sent the puck to Jamie Benn. Benn and Radulov broke in on goal while Aaron Ekblad tumbled to the ice to make the break a 2-on-0 instead of a 2-on-1. Benn whipped a crossing pass over to Radulov and he fired it home past a helpless Sam Montembeault.
Radulov was awarded an empty-net goal with 40 seconds remaining when a frustrated Mike Hoffman hurled his stick across the ice to try to prevent the Russian winger from scoring, leaving the Panthers stuck eight points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets. Finding a way to close against the Ducks and Stars could have had the Cats within four points. Ugh...
Dallas’ top line combined for 10 points with Benn answering Barkov’s game-opening power-play goal in the first from Radulov and Seguin; Seguin drew the secondary assist on John Klingberg’s power-play marker (Henrik Borgstrom was off for tripping) midway through the second; and then Benn and Seguin drew the assists on Radulov’s empty-netter.
Barkov got his first of the night at 2:11 of the opening stanza after winning an offensive zone draw to Evgenii Dadonov and heading to the slot. Dadonov handed the puck to Jonathan Huberdeau and his hard pass from right boards deflected in off Barkov’s blade to end Ben Bishop’s franchise-record shutout streak at 233:04. That’s the 24th-longest mark in NHL history.
The Cats captain struck again with a power-play goal with 3:03 left in the second to even the tilt. Barkov took a pass from Keith Yandle and snapped a wrister from the left dot just inside the near side post. Vincent Trocheck drew the secondary assist and Barkov again started things off with a faceoff win.
Samuel Montembeault delivered another quality effort, finishing with 33 saves in the loss. The rookie couldn’t really be faulted for any of the three goals he gave up. Benn was given too much space in the slot on his rebound goal (still trying figure out who Dadonov was covering) and Klingberg’s rising shot through bodies found the top corner with Montembeault screened by Radulov.
In a nutshell, it came down to the Stars top line outplaying Florida’s. The Cats got no secondary scoring (again) and simply didn’t make Bishop work hard enough. Defensive breakdowns from Matheson and Ekblad also contributed.
After finishing 2-2 on what started out to be a very promising road trip, Florida will return for two-game homestand against Arizona and Boston in the unenviable position of needing to win out to have sniff at the postseason.
Video Recap (courtesy of NHL.com)