The Florida Panthers were heavy favorites to beat the Arizona in Sunrise on Monday night, but the winless Coyotes made things a little too close for comfort.
Florida, which is unbeaten through its first six games, dominated all phases of the game yet Arizona scored a pair of quick goals in the third period to make things interesting.
The Panthers, which led 4-1 in the third, ended up getting an empty net goal from Anthony Duclair to beat the Coyotes 5-3.
Florida is 6-0 going into Wednesday’s key Atlantic Division home game against the Boston Bruins.
The Panthers have won a franchise-record six consecutive games to start the season, becoming just the 25th team in NHL history to do so.
Florida is the first NHL team to start a season 6-0 since the 2015-16 Montreal Canadiens.
And, the Panthers have won their past 12 regular season games dating back to April 27 in Nashville.
They have won their past eight regular season home games dating back to April 24th against Carolina.
“We are a confident group right now and things are going well, so it’s a lot of fun out there,’’ said Sam Bennett, who assisted on what ended up being the game-winning goal from Jonathan Huberdeau in the third.
”We did make it a little too close there. I think we got a little too comfortable in that game. We’ve just got to do a better job at staying with it and doing the right things for the full 60 minutes. But at 6-0, we are feeling good right now.”
The Panthers should be feeling pretty good about themselves right about now.
Sure, there are some things to clean up but Florida has been dominating opponents since opening its season with a 5-4 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Monday was a game the Panthers were in complete control of, basically, from start to finish.
Arizona played with some pride despite coming into the game 0-4-1 and kept things close at the end.
The Coyotes, actually, had a couple of chances to tie the score and potentially force overtime before Duclair scored.
Regardless of the final score, the Panthers took care of business and move on to the next challenge.
And Boston, as always, will be just that.
“I think every game is important, obviously,’’ said former Bruin Frank Vatrano, who scored in the second to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead.
“Playing against a team we don’t see a lot with Arizona … you never know what to expect. You know you’re going to get a team that works hard. We did tonight as well. Now we look forward to Boston.
“We’re feeling good, we’re confident. We know how good of a team we have and we just need to keep going game by game and keep putting these wins up early.”
Florida actually trailed 1-0 after Clayton Keller intercepted a turnover and walked in on Spencer Knight — who didn’t have to do a whole lot Monday — and scored with 2:17 left in the first.
That was Arizona’s first shot on goal. The Coyotes did not get another until midway through the second.
Florida tied the score on its first power play when Joe Thornton scored with 18.8 seconds remaining in the first.
In the second, Vatrano gave the Panthers the lead six minutes in off a loose puck.
Aaron Ekblad made it 3-1 on Florida’s second power play as his long shot bounced off Boca’s Jakob Chychrun on its way past goalie Karel Vejmelka.
The Panthers were 2-for-2 on the power play at the time and ended 2-for-3.
“Take it, take it, take it, because you never know what’s going to happen,’’ Joel Quenneville said of the power play goals.
“Those are the types of ways you get some momentum and all of a sudden that consistency and the predictability of counting on the powerplay to be successful and keep going. Every game is different, but we’re trying to keep pressing in that area.”
Florida took a three-goal lead when Bennett and Huberdeau hooked up, but later, the Coyotes made it a game with two quick goals from Liam O’Brien and Phil Kessel.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
BOSTON BRUINS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- WHEN: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
- WHERE: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TICKETS: CLICK HERE
- TV/STREAMING: Bally Sports Florida
- RADIO: WQAM 560-AM
- 2021 regular season series: Did not play