The Florida Panthers looked like a team playing its third game in four nights but since the Dallas Stars were as well, hard to make too many excuses for this one.
That was written before the Panthers caught fire late in the third period.
After getting shutout for five-plus periods by Dallas goalies, Sasha Barkov got the party started as the Panthers scored three within a span of three minutes to overcome a two-goal deficit and beat Dallas 3-2.
Barkov’s goal came at 13:39 of the third period.
”The last 10 minutes, we were all over them,’’ Barkov said. “Obviously it was just a matter of time before we scored. We finally got the lucky bounce after not getting one last game or in this one. It got us going. We got a couple more and won the game.”
The Stars scored twice in the second period and were getting a terrific outing from rookie goalie Jake Oettinger before Barkov, Anton Stralman and Frank Vatrano all scored.
The Panthers are now 6-0 following a loss and are one of four teams this season to comeback from a multi-goal deficit in the third period.
”That one came out of nowhere,” Joel Quenneville said later. “You are fortunate after that, but you’re not going to win many like that.”
Sergei Bobrovsky was back in net for the first time since Saturday’s 2-1 loss in Detroit. He made 37 saves as he snapped a two-game slide.
Quenneville was a big fan of Bobrovsky’s game on Thursday and that could mean a return to the starter’s net Saturday against Carolina.
“I thought he was excellent. I would call that a goalie win,” Quenneville said. “We were being outplayed and every period he kept us in there. He gave us a chance where maybe something could happen in the third. Bob was the reason why.”
Said Bobrovsky: “The guys stepped up and it’s a great win for us. When you’re down 2-0 and you find a way to win, that gives you a great boost of energy in the locker room. We put the points in the bank and that is important for the end of the season. Great team win. I have tremendous belief in this team. I knew we would score one and then anything could happen. We pulled the trigger and got two points.”
The Panthers made a handful of moves before Thursday night’s game as Kevin Connauton and Mason Marchment were boosted from the taxi squad in order to play.
With those two up, Owen Tippett went back down; Markus Nutivaara also went onto the IR with his upper-body injury but it was done retroactively so his return could be any time now.
After spending the entirety of the season on the taxi squad, Quenneville said it was time to see what Connauton could do in a game.
“We have been appreciative of what he has brought to the team as far as leaderships qualities go,” Quenneville said of Connauton, who has now played in 315 games over parts of eight seasons.
“He has been a leader of that (taxi squad) day in and day out. He came to the realization this is where he is right now and has made the best of it.”
Florida also brought 2018 first-round pick Grigori Denisenko up from AHL Syracuse.
Denisenko will start on the taxi squad but you have to think the Panthers would have left him with the Crunch unless they had plans to play him.
Depending on how Denisenko travels will determine when he is allowed to join the team per quarantine rules.
Denisenko has two goals and an assist in four AHL games in his first North American pro season.
First period highlights
It was a very even period in just about every regard.
In fact, not a whole lot happened.
Both goalies had to get into position a couple of times but neither team threatened a whole lot.
Dallas appeared to struggle to keep puck possession as Florida clamped down the middle of the ice keeping shots to the side of Bobrovsky.
When the period was over, Dallas had an 11-10 shot advantage and took three more shot attempts than the Panthers did.
Four of Florida’s 10 shots on goal were taken by its fourth line; Carter Verhaeghe and Patric Hornqvist combined for three and that represented the top six.
Second period highlights
The Panthers had a couple really choice scoring chances in the period but really did not sustain much of anything and watched the Stars take the lead into the locker room.
Dallas opened the scoring at 2:10 when Joe Pavelski jumped on a fat rebound that came off a Justin Dowling shot and put it into the empty net as Bobrovsky was late in covering.
The two big scoring chances came midway through the period when Verhaeghe had a big shot go off Oettinger; later, Verhaeghe’s stretch pass found a streaking Sasha Barkov who couldn’t finish as he was slashed in the process.
After the Panthers got off two shots during their power play chance, Dallas made it 2-0 when Jamie Benn slid into the slot and knocked down a long shot from John Klingberg and put it past Bobrovsky with 2:11 left.
Third period highlights
Keith Yandle, who took over sole possession of third on the Ironman list, had a good look early in the third but appeared to hold his shot too long.
The game was delayed a few minutes when the end boards needed repair after a big hit caused one to separate.
The repair was needed when Dallas’ Jason Dickinson was sandwiched by Hornqvist and Stralman.
Not long after play resumed, Aaron Ekblad had a slap shot from inside the blue line crack off the post.
Vatrano also had a point-blank shot end up in Oettinger’s glove. He would later get it back.
Barkov’s goal came off a shot from MacKenzie Weegar that Oettinger couldn’t seem to find and the Florida captain hopped on it.
Less than a minute later, Stralman threw up a shot that found its way through. Then came Vatrano’s goal.
“You can get very frustrated with the goaltending that they had,”” Vatrano said. “You’re pounding, we had like 90 shots and we weren’t on the scoresheet. It can get frustrating. It was going like that again tonight. Luckily we broke through there in the third.”
GEORGE’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. F Frank Vatrano, Florida
2. G Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida
3. F Sasha Barkov, Florida
Up Next: Carolina Hurricanes at Florida Panthers
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Where: BB&T Center, Sunrise
Tickets: AVAILABLE HERE