SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers needed a little bit of luck on their side to take down the Seattle Kraken on Saturday night.
With 5:52 to go, Nick Cousins found himself with a wide-open net after a wacky bounce off the glass behind the cage caught Joey Daccord completely out of position.
He potted the gimme goal which was the difference in Florida’s 3-2 win.
“I was just trying to get in on the forecheck and it just came out to me,” Cousins said. “It was just one of those fortunate plays that came right to me, so, I’ll take those all day.”
“That one is on me, I should have stayed in the net,” Daccord said. “Late in a tie game, the stanchions stick out a lot here and it took an unfortunate bounce. I should have stayed in the net and given myself a chance to make the save. I feel like I let the team down.”
Said Seattle coach Dave Hakstol: “He plays the puck really well and when it goes high up into the glass, you can get a bad bounce like we got there unfortunately. It was a bad bounce at a tough time for us, that’s all.”
After falling behind in the first period, Florida grabbed hold of the game and generated a ton of chances.
Specifically in the second period, they led 12-5 in scoring chances and 8-4 in scoring chances, per Natural Stat Trick.
Goals were just hard to come by in those high-danger situations.
“I think we scored on the least of our chances tonight,” coach Paul Maruice said. “We couldn’t hit an empty net twice, [Daccord] made two or three saves, we hit the post, we were offside, so all of our good chances didn’t go.
“We got a break, but I think we kind of earned it.”
Cousins’ line played a big part in generating those chances after Maurice opted to swap in Eetu Luostarinen for Anton Lundell down the middle.
Luostarinen, Cousins and Ryan Lomberg each had the highest expected goals total as they grinded down the game with straight-line forechecking.
“It is one of those things where I thought our line did a lot of things well, we had a lot of chances to put the puck in and then got a fortunate bounce,” Cousins said. “It makes all the chances you missed earlier in the game not sting as much.
“Big win for our team. I thought Sergei Bobrovsky played really well, especially early. They took it to us.”
The Panthers needed the energy that line generated after the early hole they fell into.
Jared McCann gave Seattle a 1-0 lead on a partial breakaway 7:58 into the game.
The former Florida forward got in behind the Panthers defense and beat Bobrovsky with a backhand shot before getting sent flying by Uvis Balinskis.
Eeli Tolvanen put the Kraken up by a pair 7:34 into the second with a deflection of a Jaden Schwartz shot.
But the lead did not last long.
Matthew Tkachuk and Gus Forsling each picked up their first goals of the season within 11 seconds of each other to tie the game.
Forsling sent a blast on the power play past Daccord 8:53 into the second ot break the ice for Florida.
Tkachuk got on the board immediately after with a deflection of a Dmitry Kulikov shot.
“He understands his game,” Maurice said. “He is point-per-game with assists, which isn’t his normal rate, but he knew it was coming. I think he’s so used to playing with Sam Bennett, it takes those guys a while [to get chemistry] but that tip is how he scores so many of his goals. It was good that he got back to feeling good about them.”
Sam Reinhart appeared to give Florida a 3-2 lead with 10.2 seconds to go in the second period with a wide-angle snipe but it was taken off the board due to an offside review.
It took until Cousins’ goal late in the third period for the Panthers to take the lead and run with it.
“I think we got a little harder on the puck,” Forsling said. “We got it out when we needed to and we got a couple of lucky bounces. But I think we deserved it.”
Bobrovsky helped Florida seal the deal with 15 third-period saves and 30 in total.
The Panthers finished their four-game homestand 3-1-0 to move to a record above .500 for the first time in the 2023-24 season.
“It’s hockey,” Bobrovsky said. “In the regular season, there will be ups and downs and it’s a part of the process. It’s the most important that we got the two points and the win.”
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS @ BOSTON BRUINS
- When: Monday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Boston Garden
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida/ESPN+
- Radio: WAXY 790-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932; NHL App
- Last Season — Regular Season: Tied 2-2; Playoffs: Florida won 4-3 (first-round)
- This season: @Boston Monday, April 6; @Florida Nov. 22, March 26
- All-time Regular Season Series: Boston leads 60-37-7, 6 ties
- All-time Postseason Series: Florida leads 2-0 (1996, 2023)
- Up Next for the Panthers: @Detroit; Thursday, 7 p.m.