Recap: Panthers finish disappointing first half with 5-1 loss to Stars

Verhaeghe gets the only Cats goal in latest defeat

The Florida Panthers are still looking for its first three-game winning streak of the season after getting pummeled 5-1 by the Central Division-leading Dallas Stars in matinee action from American Airlines Center.

Jason Robertson opened the scoring late in the first period and then iced it with a breakaway goal 4;21 into the third to help Dallas snap a two-game skid.

Robertson scored on his own rebound at 16:45 after handing off to Joe Pavelski in neutral ice to allow the Stars to reenter the Florida zone and then getting the back in the left circle. Ryan Suter got the secondary assist on the play.

Former Panther Mason Marchment drew a holding call on Josh Mahura and the Stars converted on the ensuing power play to take a two-goal lead 10:03 into the second. Wyatt Johnson played catch with Suter a couple of times before one-touching a cross over to Nils Lundkvist, who drove a one-timer by Spencer Knight.

Carter Verhaeghe answered back 2:32 later to finally get the Panthers on the board. After taking an entry pass from Marc Staal, Matthew Tkachuk bumped the puck off the boards back to Brandon Montour at the right point. Montour sent the puck towards the net and Verhaeghe was able to gather the rebound and fling it in off of Oettinger’s arm.

Unfortunately, Ty Dellandrea would outbattle Gustav Forsling for a puck and push it ahead to Jamie Benn along the right boards. Benn would throw a blind backhand pass into the slot to a wide-open Esa Lindell, who had plenty of time and space to pick his spot and put the home side back up by two at 13:14.

The Panthers had a power-play chance early in the third, but failed to convert and Robertson made them pay when he got loose to reel in Colin Miller chip pass off the boards. Robertson easily beat Knight through the five-hole along the ice for his 29th goal of the season.

Miro Heiskanen completed the Stars afternoon delight with 4;11 left in regulation by picking off Verhaeghe’s centering attempt and sending the puck all the way down the ice into the empty net.

Hot on the heels of back-to-back wins over Arizona and Detroit, the Panthers faded after a strong opening period and ended up delivering a Texas-sized clunker as they couldn’t deal with the step up in competition and fell back below NHL .500. The Cats outshot the Stars 15-8 in the first and had two chances on the power play, but couldn’t solve Oettinger and went into the dressing room down a goal after failing to neutralize Robertson. Florida got progressively worse as the game went on, managing just three shots in the third. Surrendering Lindell’s goal just 46 ticks after Verhaeghe halved the deficit was a killer. They’ll need to be better on Tuesday night in Denver.

Giants & Dwarfs

  • The regulation defeat was the Panthers 19th of the campaign, surpassing last year’s total of 18 in just 41 games. Florida is a putrid 0-15-1 when trailing after two periods this season. Like the old Taylor, the Cardiac Cats are dead.
  • Jason Robertson’s brace gave him 16 multigoal NHL games, the second-most by a Stars player before the age of 24 since the team relocated to Dallas from Minnesota. Robertson has racked up 14 points in his last ten games.
  • In addition to scoring the only Panthers goal, his 19th of the season, Carter Verhaeghe matched Robertson with a game-high six shots.
  • First Star Jake Oettinger stopped 27 shots to raise his record to 18-6-3. Spencer Knight finished with 29 saves on 33 shots.
  • Defenseman Nils Lundkvist lit the lamp in both games against Florida this season. His second period tally ended up being his second career game-winning goal.
  • For more on Dallas’ season series sweep of Florida, visit Defending Big D./