The Florida Panthers certainly did not play their best game of the season Friday night against the Arizona Coyotes but, hey, sometimes that is the way things go.
It was a good road game for the Panthers — something they really needed.
Playing the Coyotes, the Panthers were good enough to get a 3-1 win to snap a seven-game road winless streak.
Florida, which won its first three road games of the season, had gone 0-3-4 in its past seven road games before beating the host Coyotes who continue to struggle both on and off the ice.
The Panthers had not won a road game since beating the Red Wings in Andrew Brunette’s debut behind the Florida bench on Oct. 29.
Florida will wrap up this three-game road trip with a tough one, visiting the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night.
The Panthers were playing, again, without two of their leading scorers as Sasha Barkov and Anthony Duclair were out.
Barkov left Tuesday’s game in the third period with an upper body injury; Duclair has missed seven with a lower body concern.
On Friday, the Panthers looked like a team playing down to their competition. There was not much intensity as they slogged through the game.
Against the Coyotes, what the Panthers did bring was plenty enough.
Florida scored a pair of goals within a 10-second span in the first period — first on a shot from Patric Hornqvist with Sam Bennett’s snipe to follow — and ended up going into the second up 3-1.
Down 2-0, Phil Kessel got his team back into it with a nice power play goal at 16:53 of the first.
The Panthers made it a two-goal game again when Sam Reinhart scored Florida’s first power play goal in a week with 24.3 seconds remaining.
The second period was not one to be remembered as neither team did much with the puck nor took advantage of their power play chances.
In the second, those watching at home who didn’t have a cup of coffee on hand or a Red Bull in the fridge may have dozed off at times.
Even the caffeine may not have helped.
Shots were tied at 9 in perhaps the most mundane period the Panthers played all season as NaturalStatTrick.com credited both teams with seven scoring chances each.
The Coyotes amped up their play in the third to wake things up a little bit with sergei Bobrovsky being forced into making a number of good saves.
Arizona was better in the high-danger areas than Florida was — although that was not saying much.
All three of Florida’s goals in the first period came from the top of the slot or the right circle as the Panthers really did not challenge Scott Wedgewood down low.
In the end, the two teams each took 23 shots on goal — with Arizona taking the advantage in high-danger chances (9-7) and overall scoring chances (27-16).
Bobrovsky finished the night with 22 saves.
GR’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Sam Reinhart, Florida
2. Patric Hornqvist, Florida
3. Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT COLORADO AVALANCHE
- WHEN: Sunday, 8 p.m.
- WHERE: Ball Arena, Denver
- TV/STREAMING: Bally Sports Florida
- RADIO: WQAM 560
- Last season: Did not play
- This season: @Florida 4, Colorado 1 (Oct. 21)