After going five straight periods without a goal, the Florida Panthers erupted for three in a 3:11 span of the latter part of the third period to defeat the Dallas Stars 3-2 in the final tilt of the three-game set to remain in first place in the Discover Central Division.
With his team down 2-0, thanks to second period goals from Joe Pavelski and Jamie Benn, and time becoming a factor, Aleksander Barkov ignited the comeback when he poked a loose puck into the net after Jake Oettinger stopped Carter Verhaeghe’s in-close deflection of MacKenzie Weegar’s shot from between the circles with 6:21 left in regulation.
The Panthers would tie things up 52 seconds later when Eetu Luostarinen’s center ice steal sent Mason Marchment down the left side of the Dallas zone unimpeded. Marchment drove to the net, only to have his backhand bid miss the mark. After his missed shot went off the skate of Esa Lindell, he collected the rebound and found Anton Stralman open above the right circle and the veteran defenseman slapped the puck home for his second of the season.
Mason Marchment finds Anton Stralman, and we're all EVEN!— FOX Sports Panthers (@FOXPanthers) February 26, 2021
2 #DALvsFLA 2 #FlaPanthers #OneTerritory #NHL
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With overtime looming, Frank Vatrano beat Oettinger’s glove after taking a backhand flip pass in the slot from Alex Wennberg. Patric Hornqvist dashed off the bench to keep the puck in the zone after Kevin Connauton fired a shot wide, and got it around the boards to Wennberg for the eventual set up, that came with 3:10 left to go.
Are you not entertained?! Frank Vatrano and the @FlaPanthers storm back with 3 goals in the 3rd! ⛈️— FOX Sports Panthers (@FOXPanthers) February 26, 2021
2 #DALvsFLA 3 #FlaPanthers #OneTerritory #NHL
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Sergei Bobrovsky delivered a quality start, stopping 37 of 39 shots from the Stars, including all 11 in the decisive third period. Bobrovsky had no chance on Pavelski’s early second power-play goal after he kicked the puck out to the waiting wing while making a skate save on Justin Dowling. Benn’s tidy deflection goal was also unstoppable. It came with 2:11 left in the middle frame after Radek Faska beat Luostarinen on an offensive zone faceoff, and got the puck back to John Klingberg at the point.
With the glorious comeback victory, the Panthers are now a perfect 6-0 following a loss. Props to the team for sticking with it and playing a full sixty minutes when it looked like they were heading for another frustrating, shot-filled, goalless defeat. This was the second time this season the Panthers have overcome a two-goal deficit, and they lead the league with an impressive 10 comeback wins. Florida currently holds a 2-1 record against both 2020 Stanley Cup finalists. These are not the Panthers we are use to. The Cats get the day off before beginning a two-game set against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.
Giants & Dwarfs
- In addition to netting the game-winner, Frank Vatrano led all Florida forwards with four hits and two takeaways.
- Keith Yandle played in his 885th consecutive game to move past Steve Larmer for the third-longest streak in NHL history.
- Aleksander Barkov’s goal was the 300th even-strength point of his NHL career.
- Coming into the game, the Stars were 5-0-0 when leading after two periods.
- Mason Marchment, who made his second appearance of the season, collected his first point as a Panther and his second NHL assist.
- Kevin Connauton made his Florida debut, logging 20:26 TOI and a team-leading (tied) +2 rating. Connauton and MacKenzie Weegar led the Cats with five hits each.
- Jake Oettinger finished the game with 32 saves and lost for the first time in regulation.
- For more on the Panthers and Stars, head over to Defending Big D.