Panthers wrap up road trip with tough overtime loss to Coyotes

Cats finish four-game trek with 6 out of 8 possible points.

After getting an overtime win with a power-play goal Tuesday night in Denver, the Florida Panthers came out on the wrong end of an extra session call in last night's 2-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes.

Aleksander Barkov took a high-sticking minor at 1:25 of overtime, setting the table for Oliver-Ekman Larsson, who blasted home a one-timer, with the assists going to Sam Gagner and Keith Yandle, 55 seconds later.

Goaltenders Roberto Luongo and Mike Smith kept the score sheet clean over the first two periods, with Arizona outshooting the Panthers by a 22-18 margin. Luongo made a few nice stops and got helped out by Brandon Pirri,who cleaned up a dangerous Coyotes' opportunity by cooly clearing the puck out of the crease. Smith denied Tomas Kopecky on a breakaway in the opening period.

The Panthers ended Smith's shutout bid when Tomas Fleischmann fed Pirri, who deked the Coyotes' keeper and backhanded the puck into the net at the 1:47 mark of the final frame. The assist was Fleischmann's first point of the campaign, hopefully a sign of things to come for the veteran forward, who has been playing well as of late.

Sean Bergenheim proceeded to take back-to-back tripping penalties to give the Coyotes the momentum. The Cats killed off the first power play, but on the second, 26-year-old journeyman Justin Hodgman, making his long-awaited NHL debut, scored from Lauri Korpikoski and Yandle.

Arizona finished the third period with a 16-6 advantage in shots, but Luongo held down the fort, gaining the Panthers another important road point. Florida wrapped the four-game trek with a 2-0-2 record.

Once again, the Panthers were done in by a combination of penalties and lack of finishing ability. The Coyotes had eight power-play chances, while the Cats only got two. Even if the team is getting the short end of the stick from the zebras, the coaching staff needs to get the players to stop putting themselves in bad situations. After bagging a season-high four goals against the Avalanche, Pirri was the only Panther able to beat Smith, who isn't off to the best of starts this season. Every point counts, so the quick return of the pop gun offense was disappointing. The Cats had three days off, so fatigue should not have been a factor in last night's result. The two teams will meet again Thursday in Sunrise to quickly conclude the season series.

Odds & Ends

  • Roberto Luongo finished with 39 stops, lowering his GAA to 2.57 in the process. He's been pretty sharp since getting pulled in the home-opner against the Devils.
  • Justin Hodgman's first career NHL game and goal came after stints in the IHL, ECHL, AHL, SM-liiga and the KHL. What a night for the former Erie Otter, who has been trying to break into the bigs since 2007.
  • Nick Bjugstad led the Cats with 5 shots, but is still looking for his first goal of 2014-15.
  • Arizona's B.J. Crombeen had an apparent goal waved off early in the second period. His stick was ruled to be over the crossbar.
  • Brandon Pirri scored for the second-straight game and is tied for the team lead with two goals. Pirri now has 9 goals in 24 games with Florida.
  • Oliver Ekman-Larsson was a force for Coyotes. The defenseman logged 26:47 of ice time, scored the game-winner and finished with 8 shots on goal. Luongo denied OEL in the second period with a fine stick save.
  • The Panthers have now posted at least a point in all five of their road games this. Maybe they should petition the league to wear the white sweaters at home.
  • For more on the game, sail a ship across the desert and stop by Five For Howling, one of my favorite stops on the SB Nation circuit.