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Comeback Cats Return, Florida Panthers Stun Dallas Stars



Florida panthers
Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and defenseman Gus Forsling celebrate their comeback win over the host Dallas Stars on Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The Florida Panthers found themselves in a pretty rare position against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night. 

Midway through the second, the Panthers were losing. And losing big.

Then they ended up winning.

That, too, was big.

Florida’s 4-3 win marked the first time since April 2, 2022, that the Panthers erased a multiple-goal deficit in the third period.

One reason is, well, the Panthers do not find themselves losing in the third period all that often, especially this season. 

Dallas held the upper hand through the first half of the game, holding a three-goal lead after hemming Florida in its zone and taking advantage of some uncharacteristic mistakes by the usually sound Panthers.

But behind four unanswered goals and a three-point outing by captain Sasha Barkov, the Panthers came all the way back to stun the Central Division leaders. 

“I think we knew we had that in our game,” Barkov told Bally Sports Florida’s Katie Engleson. “It wasn’t going our way in the first two periods, we had a big goal at the end of the second,.

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“But we have the belief in that room that in any game, you can never count us out.”

Even after Sam Reinhart’s power-play goal with 7:08 to go in the second period, the Panthers were getting hammered by the Stars.

Dallas led 26-10 in scoring chances and 16-2 in high-danger chances as the Panthers could not get much of anything going before Reinhart’s shot from the slot fluttered off a Dallas defender’s stick and past Jake Oettinger for their first goal of the game.

In the second intermission, the conversation in the locker room centered around “A lot of ‘this is not us.’ A lot of ‘my line wasn’t good enough’,” Matthew Tkachuk said. “But somehow, we were still in the game.”

Sergei Bobrovsky was very much part of that reason.

He stopped 21 of the 24 shots he faced through two periods before stopping all six he faced in the third.

Bobrovsky stopped 12 of 15 high-danger shots.

“Even though it was 3-0, it easily could have been 8-0,” Tkachuk said. “He did a great job of keeping us in it, and we told him to shut the door in the third, and we’re going to find a way to win it.”

Bobrovsky did his job, and the Panthers turned the tide midway through the third period.

Barkov deflected a Carter Verhaeghe shot past Oettinger on the power play with 8:51 to go to make it 3-2. 

Sam Bennett then deflected a Tkachuk shot with six minutes to go to tie the game up.

The Panthers almost immediately got a big opportunity on the power play after Tkachuk got tripped up by Chris Tanev.

Florida took advantage.

Barkov threw a hard pass to the crease, where he was looking for Tkachuk, but it caught Stars defenseman Esa Lindell’s skate and went in to give Florida the lead with 5:22 to go.

Within 38 seconds, the Panthers went from trailing to leading and never looked back.

“I would like to say that they learned something,” Paul Maurice said. “We play a certain style of game, and it’s hard. And we went through the first two periods of hockey where we weren’t anywhere near. It looked the way it was supposed to but it wasn’t hard, it wasn’t right. And that’s all we needed in the third.

”It wasn’t about winning the game. Comebacks are great for players and they get to enjoy it, but to be able to not have anything going for two periods and then get to play hard the way we need to play, that’s a really important thing to carry with you. So you always know you’re never out of the game.”



  • When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: PNC Arena; Raleigh, N.C.
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 95.6 FM2,WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Last Season — Regular Season: Carolina won 2-1; Eastern Conference Finals: Florida won 4-0.
  • This Season (Tied 1-1) — At Florida: Panthers 5, Hurricanes 2 (Nov.10). At Carolina: Hurricanes 1, Panthers 0 (Feb. 22); Thursday.
  • All-Time Regular Season Series: Carolina/Hartford leads 72-47-10, 11 ties
  • Postseason History: Florida 1-0 (2023 ECF)
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday vs. Tampa Bay, 6 p.m. (ESPN+)

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