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Comeback Denied: Colorado Avalanche 3, Florida Panthers 2

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Ryan Lomberg fights Nicolas Aube-Kubel following Lomberg’s big hit on Jacob MacDonald during the second period of Sunday’s game between the Panthers and Avalanche in Denver. — AP Photo/David Zalubowski

The Florida Panthers and Colorado Avalanche are the two highest scoring teams in the NHL so far this season but those expecting a shootout in Denver on Sunday night may have been disappointed with how things went down.

For a while, anyway.

Instead of a high-flying offensive showdown, the game was a physical, defensive showdown which did not see its first goal until the final seconds of the second period.

Then things opened up.

The Avalanche, which came into the night averaging 4.38 goals per night, got that first goal with 22.5 seconds remaining before the second intermission which kick-started what ended up turning into a hard-fought 3-2 win over the Panthers.

Andre Burakovsky scored all three Colorado goals Sunday — the one at the end of the second and then two in the third.

Florida battled back from a 2-0 deficit in the third but Burakovsky’s third goal of the night proved too much to come back from.

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Florida, which has now lost eight of its past nine road games, heads back home where it is 14-1 at FLA Live Arena. The Panthers went 1-1-1 on this three-game road trip.

The Panthers are 18-5-4 and 4-4-4 in road games this season.

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Colorado and Florida split the two-game (regular) season series, both winning at home. The two would not see each other this season — unless it is in a rematch of the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals this coming summer.

The two teams played a defensive first period with both taking just nine shots on goal.

Both teams lost a player to a strange happening: Colorado defenseman Jack Johnson took a puck to the face and Florida’s Patric Hornqvist was clipped by an errant skate as he charged around the net.

The two players were back on the ice for the second.

Things took a turn in the second when Ryan Lomberg blasted Jacob MacDonald along the boards as the former Florida defenseman was playing the puck.

It was a clean hit, but it was a nasty one; MacDonald was moving but did not seem to know where he was as he stayed down on the ice. He was treated by medical staff and put on a back board and taken off the ice.

He was reportedly being evaluated at the arena and was said to be moving and alert.

The Avs got a little feisty after the hit with Lomberg fighting in the aftermath and a couple of big Colorado hits coming throughout the period.

Things certainly got chippy with the two teams brawling a bit after the game ended.

Burakovsky finally scored on his team’s 18th shot of the night, wristing a power play offering past Sergei Bobrovsky with 22.5 seconds remaining in the period.

Burakovsky made it a 2-0 game, scoring on a driving backhand at 2:03 of the third.

Florida finally got on the board at 7:41 of the third as Joe Thornton teed off on a slick cross-ice pass from Carter Verhaeghe as a power play chance came to a close.

Not two minutes later and the Panthers tied it up, Montour delivering on another nice pass from Verhaeghe.

Colorado retook the lead at 11:43 on Burakovsky’s third goal of the night — this one a wrister from the high slot.

The Panthers made a late charge with Bobrovsky out of the net and on the bench but were not able to tie the game up a second time.

Florida had a 6-on-4 power play chance in the final minute but couldn’t get anything past Darcy Kuemper.

— The Panthers were forced to dress seven defenseman as they were down to 11 forwards with Sasha Barkov, Anthony Duclair and Maxim Mamin out Sunday night.

GR’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME

1. Andre Burakovsky, Colorado

2. Darcy Kuemper, Colorado

3. Carter Verhaeghe, Florida

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK

OTTAWA SENATORS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS 

  • WHEN: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
  • WHERE: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise 
  • TV/STREAMING: Bally Sports Florida
  • RADIO: WQAM 560
  • Last season: Did not play

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