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Silent Knights: Florida Panthers 4, Vegas 2

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SUNRISE — For large segments of Saturday’s game, it looked like the Vegas Golden Knights were already on their Christmas break. It took the Florida Panthers a while to take advantage.

The Panthers finally took control of a game it absolutely dominated by scoring twice in the third to beat Vegas 4-2 in a game the Knights seemed mostly disinterested in.

At least until the game was already decided and a number of scrums broke out.

Vegas, of course, has the upper hand in this nouveau rivalry after beating the Panthers in last season’s Stanley Cup Final.

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In the first game between the two since, however, the Panthers came to play — and Ryan Lomberg had a score to settle.

It took just one punch against Keegan Kolesar for Lomberg to get his message across for Kolesar’s big hit on Matthew Tkachuk in Game 3 — and derogatory comments about the Panthers.

Florida absolutely crushed play on the ice in the first as it not only outshot the Knights 20-3 but had a 38-7 shot attempt advantage.

For times, it looked like the Knights may have spent a little too much time at Elbo Room on Friday night.

Only rookie goalie Jiri Patera was having none of Florida’s business as the game remained scoreless going into the second.

Vegas, of course, took the initial lead when Mark Stone got off the fifth shot of the game off a nice pass from Ivan Barbashev that split Aaron Ekblad and Gus Forsling at 1:21 of the second.

Florida tied it on a nice wrist shot from Sam Bennett and took a 2-1 lead on Forsling’s bouncing shot from the point.

It looked liked the Panthers might have this one figured out — before Vegas tied it with 22.3 left in the second when Ben Hutton’s pass deflected off Evan Rodrigues and right onto the blade of Pavel Dorofeyev.

Carter Verhaeghe ended up giving Florida the lead back for good early in the third, scoring off a power play wrist shot.

Sam Reinhart gave the Panthers some breathing room by scoring on another power play chance midway through the third.

With 5.4 seconds remaining, a number of fights broke out with some players being tossed.

As a number of Florida players laughed about it on the bench, officials ran out the clock and called it.

The Panthers will now be off for a couple days before visiting the Lightning on Wednesday night.

GOALS OF THE GAME

  • Vegas 1, Panthers 0 (1:21, 2nd): Ivan Barbashev threaded a pass through from behind the net and Mark Stone cashed in.
  • Panthers 1, Vegas 1 (8:58, 2nd): Sam Bennett froze Jiri Patera and whipped a sweet wristshot through to tie the score.
  • Panthers 2, Vegas 1 (15:16, 2nd): A wormburner shot from Gus Forsling finds its way through traffic and gives Florida the lead.
  • Vegas 2, Panthers 2 (19:37, 2nd): Ben Hutton’s pass deflects off the stick of Evan Rodrigues and right onto the blade of Pavel Dorofeyev who beats Sergei Bobrovsky.
  • Panthers 3, Vegas 2 (6:10, 3rd PP): Carter Verhaeghe gets the power play goal, rifling a shot from the left circle.
  • Panthers 4, Vegas 2 (11:51, 3rd PP): Sam Reinhart scores on a sweet saucer pass from Sasha Barkov as the Panthers finally put some room between themselves and the Knights.

FHN’S 3 STARS OF THE GAME

1. Carter Verhaeghe, Florida

2. Sasha Barkov, Florida

3. Sam Bennett, Florida

ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS @ TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

  • When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM 2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Season Series — At Tampa Bay: Wednesday, Feb. 17. At Florida: March 16.
  • Last season: Even 2-2
  • All-time regular season series: Florida leads 75-50-19, 10 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Friday vs. Montreal, 7 p.m.

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