The Florida Panthers did a lot right, but couldn’t overcome a disastrous first period that saw the defense fold like a cheap tent and Sergei Bobrovsky get beaten four times, eventually dropping a 6-4 decision to the Dallas Stars at FLA Live Arena.
Florida tested Scott Wedgewood 13 times in the opening frame and he stopped all of them while on the other end of the ice Roope Hintz, Nils Lundkvist, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin were given plenty of room to light the lamp. Seguin’s 2-on-1 goal trickled through the goaltender’s pads with nine seconds left in the period and was assisted by former Panther Mason Marchment.
Lundkvist’s goal was his first with Dallas after he was traded from the New York Rangers during the offseason.
With Spencer Knight in to start the second, the Cats stepped onto the comeback trail when Carter Verhaeghe notched at power-play goal at the 7:29 mark. Verhaeghe gathered in a Gustav Forsling pass that hit him in skate before snapping a shot by Wedgewood from the left circle. The secondary assist went to Sam Bennett.
Little by little.— Bally Sports Florida: Panthers (@BallyPanthers) November 18, 2022
Carter Verhaeghe gets the Panthers on the board!@FlaPanthers | #TimeToHunt pic.twitter.com/nkTpF2EBov
Hintz solved Knight at 10:51 after Matthew Tkachuk overskated the puck and then Marc Staal inexplicably turned it over to Jason Robertson. Robertson passed down to a wide-open Hintz, who collected his second of the Knight. To quote Darth Vader “All too easy.”
An almost immediate reply from the Panthers cut the Dallas lead back down to three 1:16 later. After taking a pass from Forsling, Tkachuk quickly swung the puck to Bennett, opening up a two-on-one that saw the center feed Eetu Luostarinen for the finish.
PANTHERS STRIKE AGAIN!— Bally Sports Florida: Panthers (@BallyPanthers) November 18, 2022
Eetu Luostarinen makes it a 5-2 game
Bally Sports+ is a new option to watch Panthers games. Learn more here ➡️ https://t.co/8va8dYVmnt pic.twitter.com/QkMUq57CNc
Wedgewood would have to leave the game on a stretcher at 14:05 after making back-to-back saves on Anton Lundell’s breakaway attempt and rebound. Speedy recovery, Wedgie!
With Jake Oettinger now manning the pipes and Jani Hakanpaa in the penalty box, Aaron Ekblad took a pass for Brandon Montour and rifled a shot from the left point off Sam Reinhart to pull the Cats within two at 18:27.
...HERE COME THE CATS...— Bally Sports Florida: Panthers (@BallyPanthers) November 18, 2022
POWER PLAY GOAL. 5-3.@FlaPanthers | #TimeToHunt pic.twitter.com/cf9FlXzfGI
The Panthers continued to pepper Oetteniger with shots in third and finally got another one to go when Bennett moved over the blue line to take a return pass from Verhaeghe and found an open Tkachuk with a cross that the big winger converted on the backhand with 5:03 left in regulation to end a five-game goalless drought.
ONE GOAL GAME— Bally Sports Florida: Panthers (@BallyPanthers) November 18, 2022
Bennett to Tkachuk and the Panthers are within one!!!!! 5-4 game!!!!!@FlaPanthers | #TimeToHunt pic.twitter.com/9CFCGVRoWf
Unfortunately, the comeback stalled and Ty Dellandrea, who was robbed by Bobrovsky earlier in the game, ended it with an empty-netter with 18 ticks on the clock.
An absolutely awful end to the first period, that saw the Stars cash in on a bevy of defense breakdowns three times in a 4:35 span, doomed the Panthers to failure in this one. The Cats did make a valiant effort to get the game to overtime, but the weak-ass fifth goal allowed in the second ended up being the backbreaker. The Panthers out-shot Dallas 44-29, outhit them 30-14, went 2 for 4 on the power play and still managed to lose. Florida needed to make hay on this five-game homestand, but find themselves 2-2 after yet another disappointing defeat. The success of the homestand now hinges on Saturday’s game against the Calgary Flames.
Giants & Dwarfs
- First Star and birthday boy Roope Hintz extended his point streak to ten games, In addition to his two goals, he registered a team-high five shots and one block.
- After Marc Staal gifted him the puck, Jason Robertson extended his point streak to ten games by setting up Hintz’ eventual game-winner.
- With Aleksander Barkov out sick, Sam Bennett racked up three assists, matching a career-high. Playing in his 500th NHL game, Bennett also had three shots, two hits and a block in 19:14 TOI.
- Props to Spencer Knight, who stopped 16 of 17 shots after replacing Sergei Bobrovsky. Due to the Panthers rally, Knight got tagged with the loss. Bobrovsky stopped 7 of the 11 shots he faced. Is there any question that Knight should be the number one keeper right now?
- Scott Wedgewood made 21 saves on 23 shots before being replaced by Jake Oettinger, who made 19 saves, including 15 in the third period. Looks like Wedgewood has some kind of back injury.
- For the other side of this one, stop by Defending Big D.