It looked like a similar storyline for the Florida Panthers on Thursday night in Vancouver.
Despite a dominant first period, the Panthers were being done in by a strong start in goal by the opposition and had nothing to show for all the hard work.
Yet once Matthew Tkachuk scored with 1:46 remaining, the floodgates opened.
Three goals within a span of 59 seconds was the difference for the Panthers as they snapped a three-game slide with a 5-1 win over the Canucks.
Florida’s three goals — from Tkachuk, Gus Forsling and Ryan Lomberg — set a franchise record for most goals in such a short timespan. The previous franchise record was three goals in 62 seconds set back in 2009.
”We seemed to have the right mindset from the start to the finish,’’ Paul Maurice said. “I thought we were in control of what we wanted to do for the whole night.’’
With the good, there usually comes some bad.
Center Anton Lundell left with an undisclosed injury early in the first period, returned for two shifts in the second and did not play again.
”He came back and it did not loosen up,’’ Maurice said. “He may be fine (Friday) or not. But it’s not something longterm nor a concern. He just tightened up.”
Thatcher Demko, who was playing so well in net for the Canucks, was injured on the Lomberg goal and had to be helped to the room with the assistance of medical personnel with what appeared to be an injury to his right leg.
The night started with the Canucks warming up with jerseys representing recent Hall of Fame inductees Roberto Luongo, Henrik and Daniel Sedin — with the trio being honored with a patch on Vancouver’s game jerseys as well as a nice pregame ceremony.
Luongo, who will be inducted into the Canucks’ Ring of Honor next season, spoke to the crowd from center ice before dropping the ceremonial first puck to Aaron Ekblad and Bo Horvat.
”This is actually the first time I have been able to address you guys since I left,” Luongo said. “I want to thank you on behalf of Hank, Danny and myself for everything you have done for us over the years. On a personal note, I want to thank you guys for pushing me to be a better goaltender, pushing to me to be a better person every night.”
Once that puck dropped, Demko did his best Luongo impersonation, stopping one Florida shot after another including a great look from Tkachuk down low.
But once the Panthers got things rolling late in the period — starting with Tkachuk — they got things going and Spencer Knight did the rest.
“What we haven’t done recently is give our goaltenders the opportunity to have a great night,” Maurice said. “There was volume there but the danger was not there as it was in the past.”
Florida’s first goal came from Tkachuk with 1:46 remaining in the period with Forsling scoring off a Sam Reinhart feed 32 seconds later.
Lomberg finished the attack off by charging up and pouncing on a puck with 47 seconds remaining on the clock, Demko hitting the ice in making a stop but getting hurt in the process.
He appeared to be injured just before Lomberg scored.
The Panthers were never in danger in this one after that opening period, one it completely controlled with a 14-2 advantage in scoring chances and 9-0 in high-danger chances.
Florida attacked throughout and it paid off.
“We have not played the way we wanted to over the past week or two,” Tkachuk told Bally Sports Florida following the game. “We have had games where we had similar starts and gave it away. I thought we did a really good job of not just holding on, but building on it and keep going after the next goal. I thought we played really solid.”
The Panthers had a solid second and third period with Sam Bennett scoring the team’s final two goals — both off nice dishes from Tkachuk.
Bennett’s first goal came off a tic-tac-toe sequence started by Tkachuk with Carter Verhaeghe feeding Bennett on the left side of the net.
His second came on a sweet dish from Tkachuk as the two both closed in on Spencer Martin (12 saves).
Knight was strong in net although he did let one in through his skates on a sliding shot from Dakota Joshua less than a minute after Bennett made it 4-0.
Regardless, another nice game from Knight as he became the youngest goalie in franchise history to 30 wins in his career and further solidified his spot as Florida’s starter.
“I don’t want to say we were due for a game like this because I think we have been doing a lot of good things and sometimes things just don’t go your way,” Knight said.
“I think we have continuously played good hockey, but there were moments where things went wrong. That will serve us well in the long run. We can learn from that.”
The Panthers, who had lost seven of nine heading into the night, now head off to Seattle for a couple of days with a game Saturday night against the Kraken.
GR’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Matthew Tkachuk, Florida (goal, 2 assists)
2. Sam Bennett, Florida (2 goals)
3. Gus Forsling, Florida (goal, game-high 24:32)
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT SEATTLE KRAKEN
- When: Saturday, 10 p.m.
- Where: Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle
- TV: Bally Sports Florida; ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last season: Seattle won 2-0
- All-time regular season series: Seattle leads 2-0