The odds were not in the Florida Panthers favor in Wednesday’s preseason game against the host Dallas Stars.
After all, the Panthers leave most of their big guns back in South Florida opting for a much younger lineup — with many players who will likely start their season with the AHL Charlotte Checkers.
As the game wore on, it appeared Dallas’ veteran-laden lineup was simply wearing down the fresh-faced Panthers.
Only the kids continued the fight.
Down a goal going into the third, Serron Noel tied the score with a crafty goal with 42.2 seconds remaining to force overtime.
Noel then did the honors in the shootout to lead the Panthers to a 4-3 victory at AmericanAirlines Center.
Goalie Christopher Gibson was outstanding and kept the Panthers in the game with 35 saves. He also stopped all three attempts in the shootout as Serron was the only shooter to score.
Florida held a 2-0 lead early in the second period, but Dallas scored three quick goals in the second.
Even though the Panthers held an early lead, they were chasing the game throughout (they were outshot 30-15 through the first two periods).
“I thought we got better as the game went on, particularly in the third period,” Joel Quenneville said. “I didn’t like our second or our first although we had some stretches there. If you look at the course of the game, sometimes it is a goalie win and I thought Gibson was outstanding. He was a factor in us being able to come back and get the extra one, too.”
Owen Tippett, who is expected to start the season on Florida’s second line, took advantage of getting time on the top power play unit in Dallas by taking three shots on the Panthers’ first go with the man advantage.
Tippett’s third shot clipped Mason Marchment in front for the first goal of the night.
The Panthers took a 2-0 lead early in the second when Zac Dalpe hit a streaking Logan Hutsko who fired a shot that snuck past Jake Oettinger at 2:57 of the period.
From then on, it was Dallas’ turn to do some offensive damage.
Dallas scored on its 24th shot of the night against Gibson.
Dallas took three shots and finally put one through when Gibson hit the ice and Alexander Radulov roofed a shot at 6:55 of the second.
The Stars tied it up on a power play goal as Jason Robertson was hit by a shot, corralled the puck and backhanded it past Gibson.
Just over a minute later, former Florida defenseman Alexander Petrovic got the puck away from Ryan Lomberg with a hard hit along the center ice boards.
Petrovic then fed Jamie Benn who walked in on Gibson and went five-hole to give the Stars their first lead of the night.
Florida had a few scoring chances in its bid to tie the score in the third — few better than Chase Priskie ringing one off the cage with 6:46 left.
Dalpe, who had a strong game, had a chance off the rebound but couldn’t handle the puck.
Dallas also had a couple good chances to take a two-goal lead and had a power play chance where it kept possession for almost the entirety — with Dalpe playing without a stick. Still, Florida stood strong and kept it a one-goal game.
With about 1:40 left, the Panthers pulled Gibson and put out six attackers. Noel battled down low, got a backhand on a loose puck and swept it past Oettinger to knot the score at 3.
In overtime, Aleksi Heponiemi had a prime scoring chance stopped as he batted a puck out of the air only to see it land right in Oettinger’s midsection.
Florida also got a 4-on-3 advantage in overtime for the final 1:02 after Dallas was hit for having too many skaters on the ice but could not convert and the game went to a shootout.
Gibson was terrific in net for Florida, ending the night with 35 saves.
The ice was a tilted toward the Stars for much of the first period although Florida got a couple of scoring chances in the final minutes.
Noel, who is fighting for a roster spot on the big club, had a strong first period and was denied a scoring chance down low with 4:50 remaining in the period.
Dallas ended up with 16 shots on goal in the first with goalie Christopher Gibson making a couple of really nice saves.
On one late in the period, he made the initial save but fumbled the puck allowing Jamie Benn to charge in from the slot and pounce on it.
Gibson made the second save as well and the Panthers went into the break holding a 1-0 lead.
One reason the ice was tilted in Dallas’ favor in the first was Florida winning just three of 16 faceoffs.
The Panthers did a little better in the dot in the second, but Dallas still held control of most drops.
— Defenseman Lucas Carlsson, who is battling for a spot on the main roster, left the game late in the second after appearing to sustain a lower body injury.
Carlsson did not return and Quenenville said he would “probably going to gone for a little bit here.” Quenenville said the team would know more on Thursday.
GEORGE’S THREE STARS OF THE NIGHT
1. Serron Noel, Florida
2. Christopher Gibson, Florida
3. Owen Tippett, Florida