The Florida Panthers backed into first place in the Central Division by earning a point in a frustrating 3-2 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night. Florida dropped consecutive games for the first time this season. All three contests between the closely-matched Cats and Hurricanes have gone to overtime or a shootout.
After scoring the decisive shootout goal on Saturday, Martin Necas was the Hurricanes hero again, this time finishing off a nice pass from Sebastian Aho 1:59 into the extra session as the two ran a two-on-two play against Frank Vatrano and Anton Stralman to perfection. Stralman looked to be in position to break up the pass, but Aho’s feed was just too good.
Continuing a ten-day trend, the Panthers fell behind (again) and for the fourth straight game waited until the third period to start scoring.
A first period holding call on Patric Hornqvist put the Hurricanes up a man and Brett Pesce crushed a one-timer by Chris Driedger from the left circle after taking a pass from Jake Bean. Necas drew the secondary assist and Jesper Fast provided the leaping screen on the power-play goal that came at the 13:55 mark.
Alex Nedeljkovic kept a clean sheet and stopped Florida’s first 28 shots before yielding one on a rebound to Vatrano at 4:40 of the final frame after he stopped Aleksander Barkov’s deflection of a Carter Verhaeghe pass into the crease.
The Panthers continued to pepper Nedeljkovic and finally forged ahead with 3:09 left in regulation. Eetu Luostarinen forced Bean into a turnover along the side boards and the puck ended up on the stick of Mason Marchment behind the Carolina net. Marchment gave the puck back to Luostarinen and he slipped out in front and popped the puck over the Canes keeper on the third whack.
Where there's a will, there's a way! @FlaPanthers come back AGAIN in the 3rd!— FOX Sports Florida & Sun (@FOXSportsFL) March 2, 2021
1 #CARvsFLA 2 #FlaPanthers #OneTerritory #NHL
: FOX Sports Florida
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Unfortunately, the lead only lasted a scant 96 seconds before a former Cat deprived his old team of a point. With Nedeljkovic off for an extra attacker, Necas (getting tired of this guy yet?) went down low to Nino Niederreiter, who centered into the slot to Vincent Trocheck, who immediately swept the shot into the back of the net. Trocheck has scored in all three meetings against Florida this season.
As mentioned above, this was a frustrating loss. Not to discount the first two periods, which were relatively even, the Panthers should’ve won this game on the strength of a dominant third period, that saw them outshoot the Hurricanes, 23-9. Florida did not score during the first period over the entirety of this five-game homestand, and allowed the first goal in all five tilts. It’s been four games since the Cats have scored in the second period. The effort is there, and the team continues to put up big shot totals, but they need to finish more often. While they continue to amass points, these recent losses were wins earlier in the season. The Panthers will travel to Nashville for the first of two with the Predators on Thursday, looking to end its first losing streak of the campaign.
Wind & Water
- Aleksander Barkov extended his point streak to three games while playing in his 500th NHL game. He is the 11th Panthers player to play at least 500 games with the club.
- The Cats have mounted comebacks in the third period to earn at least a point in each of their last three games.
- Alex Nedeljkovic earned Second Star honors for his 44-save effort. The 46 shots on goal are the most the Hurricanes have allowed this season
- Third Star Chris Driedger was solid again, stopping 28 of 31 shots. Driedger (7-2-2) didn’t have much of a chance on any of the Carolina goals.
- Frank Vatrano registered a goal for the third consecutive game, his second three-game goal streak of the season. All three of Frank the Tank’s tallies have come in the third period.
- Mason Marchment has provided a spark and produced an assist for the third consecutive game.
- For the other side of this one, visit the fine folks at Canes Country.