Recap: Panthers blow big lead, fall 5-4 to Blues in overtime

Cats crumble in the third before surrendering Kyrou’s OT-winner

The Florida Panthers built a big lead, but crumbled in the third period and had to settle for a single point after dropping a 5-4 overtime decision to the St. Louis Blues.

Florida opened the scoring 1:20 into the first period. After Gustav Forsling broke up a pass in his own zone, Aaron Ekblad handed the puck off to Eetu Luostarinen, who it carried down the ice. Luostarinen eventually slipped a return pass through to Ekblad in the slot and he turned and fired it by Thomas Greiss.

The Panthers added on 1:38 later when Torey Krug sent a clearing attempt out to Radko Gudas at the right point and his immediate, curving shot eluded Greiss.

Team-leader Carter Verhaeghe would put the Cats up by three at the 8:47 mark. Gudas didn’t get assist on the play, but he started if off by bumping Valdimir Tarasenko off the puck along the left side boards. Sam Reinhart took possession of the puck and after taking a few strides, sprung Verhaeghe on a breakaway with a knifing pass that ended with Carter’s 12th goal.

The Blues got on the board at 11:39, going the other way after a Colin White turnover. After picking off the pass, Calle Rosen headmanned to Ryan O’Reilly, who lugged the puck over the blue line and got it to Josh Leivo. Spencer Knight stopped Leivo’s initial shot, but Brandon Staal was there to pop the rebound in,

Florida would go up by three again with the second period’s only goal, which came shorthanded at 12:50. Brayden Schenn attempted to go backdoor to O’Reilly, only to see Forsling get a piece of the pass, sending it off target. Reinhart collected the puck and after beating Ivan Barbashev, cruised down a huge opening on the right side, creating a 2-on-1 that saw him get his second helper of the night when he centered to Anton Lundell, who finished from the edge of the left circle.

St. Louis would rally in the third, scoring three times in a torrid 7:55 span to force overtime.

O’Reilly sparked the comeback at 8:16, sweeping the puck in off Knight from behind the net after Saad fed Rosen, who missed wide on his shot.

A strong cross-ice pass from Krug sent Jordan Kyrou screaming down the right side alone and he blasted a blocker-side shot by Knight at 13:43, with Justin Faulk drawing the secondary assist.

Tarasenko would tie it up 2:28 later, getting open behind the play that first saw Pavel Buchnevic center out of the corner to Barbashev in the right circle. Barbashev found Tarasenko and he wristed a shot against the grain into the upper corner of the net,

The end came 1:08 into overtime. After ragging the puck for a bit to allow his forwards to change, Krug snapped a long, perfectly-placed outlet pass to Kyrou, who skated away from Verhaeghe before he backhanded the puck over a sprawling Knight for the game-winner, Oh, boy...

It looked like the Panthers were doing a fabulous job of building on Wednesday’s impressive win over league-leading Boston. The Cats were firing on all cylinders over the first two periods, outshooting the Blues 33-17 to go up by three after Lundell’s pretty shorty. Inexplicably, the Blues, who played last night in Tampa, sent the Panthers completely careening off the rails, outshooting them 19-4 and scoring three times at even strength in the third before winning it on the only shot of the extra session. The end of this game was just a complete head-scratcher. That said, if there’s one thing the Cats have been this season, it’s inconsistent. They’ll need to find answers on this upcoming five-game road trip to keep up with the rest of the pack in the Eastern Conference.

Sharps & Flats

  • Due to their cap woes, the Panthers played one short with 17 skaters (11 forwards, six defensemen) because Aleksander Barkov was out sick. They sure could’ve used the captain’s defensive prowess in the third.
  • Aaron Ekblad’s game-opening goal was the 6,000th in franchise history. It was his only shot on goal of the game. Ekblad played a team-high 24:18 and was credited with three blocks and three takeaways.
  • In addition to scoring twice,  First Star Jordan Kyrou registered five shots on goal. Both of Kyrou’s goals came off excellent passes from defenseman Torey Krug.
  • After going 12 games without a goal, Anton Lundell has now scored in back-to-back games. Lundell led Florida’s centers in ice time (21:36) with Barkov out.
  • Thomas Greiss stopped 33 shots to get the win while Spencer Knight finished with 32 saves in a losing effort.
  • For more on the Panthers sad note, visit St. Louis Game Time. /