The Florida Panthers fell to the Dallas Stars the same way they have dropped games all year: They lost the special teams battle and their stars were outperformed by the best players on the opposite side of the ice.
Florida went 0-for-4 on the power play and 0-for-1 on the penalty kill and it cost them as the host Stars walked away with a 5-1 victory.
Dallas was backstopped by two of their biggest stars via a two-goal performance by Jason Robertson and 27 saves by Jake Oettinger.
Oettinger came up especially huge, making 15 saves in a first period where the Panthers were hounding them.
In an unfamiliar twist, the Panthers held a 7-4 lead in high-danger chances but they could not cash in on any of them.
Robertson broke the ice for the Stars late in the first period and they did not look back since.
Even when Carter Verhaeghe appeared to give Panthers some momentum late in the second period by bringing the Panthers back to 2-1, Dallas snubbed that out less than a minute later.
Florida has now failed to secure a third win in a row after only their fourth occurrence of back-to-back wins at a time where they desperately needed it.
They are below .500 at 18-19-4 going into the second half of the season — one which does not get any easier from here.
The Panthers will close out a four-game road trip against the defending champion Colorado Avalanche and the Western Conference-leading Vegas Golden Knights.
THE GOALS OF THE GAME
- Stars, 1, Panthers 0 (16:45, 1st): Jason Robertson picked up his own rebound and beat Spencer Knight short side.
- Stars 2, Panthers 0 (10:03, 2nd, PPG) Nils Lundkvist buried a one-timer home off of a feed from Wyatt Johnston with two seconds remaining on the man advantage.
- Stars 2, Panthers 1 (12:35, 2nd): Carter Verhaeghe picked up a Brandon Montour rebound and slotted the puck into the top corner.
- Stars 3, Panthers 1 (13:14, 2nd): Esa Lindell caught the Panthers sleeping in the neutral zone, slipped into the offensive zone behind them and beat Knight glove side.
- Stars 4, Panthers 1 (4:21, 3rd): Robertson picked up his second of the game on the breakaway seconds after a failed Florida power play expired.
- Stars 5, Panthers 1 (15:49 3rd): Miro Hesikanen scores an empty-net goal from his own end.
The Panthers had no answer for Jake Oettinger early on.
Dallas’ star goaltender stopped all 13 shots he faced in the first period on seven high-danger chances. He continued his success into the second period, stopping seven more shots before Carter Verhaeghe broke through on a rebound.
SWAGGY WAS BUZZING
Verhaeghe created multiple scoring chances early on in the game.
He set the Panthers up early by drawing a slashing penalty with his speed on a breakaway opportunity early in the first and did not relent from there.
By the time he scored his 19th goal of the season late in the second, Verhaeghe had six shots on goal and eight shot attempts.
COLBY’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Jason Robertson, Dallas (2 goals)
2. Jake Oettinger, Dallas (27 saves)
3. Ryan Suter, Dallas (2 assists)
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT COLORADO AVALANCHE
- When: Tuesday, 9:30 p.m.
- Where: Ball Arena, Denver
- TV/Streaming: 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: Split 1-1
- All-time regular season series: Colorado leads 26-11-5, 3 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Thursday at Vegas, 10 p.m.