SUNRISE — Sam Bennett’s night went from disastrous to euphoric as the Florida Panthers got their first true comeback win of the season Saturday night against the Boston Bruins.
In the second period, Bennett inadvertently let the Bruins take the lead when he squared up and batted a Charlie Coyle shot into his own net.
In the third, however, Bennett made up for his gaffe as he tied the score with a goal which helped swing momentum back in Florida’s direction.
The Panthers ended up giving the lead back in the final minute — but Sasha Barkov tied the score with 2.4 seconds remaining and Sam Reinhart won it 17 seconds into overtime.
Florida’s 4-3 overtime win sent the team into the All-Star break on a high note.
“I would have had some nightmares if we did not win the game tonight, so it felt good that we were able to come back and get the win,” Bennett said.
The Panthers came within 48 seconds of dropping their fourth consecutive game when Pastrnak appeared to give Boston yet another win in its historic (to date) season.
Only Barkov and the Panthers still had some time remaining.
And they made great use of it.
Barkov’s desperation heave from the slot with 2.4 seconds left in regulation sent the game to overtime — and put those fans who remained in the building into a frenzy.
Reinhart put the Bruins to bed 17 seconds into the 3-on-3 overtime to win the game for Florida.
“God, you never see that,” coach Paul Maurice said of Bennett’s own goal.
”And it has to be a guy that has worked his butt off every shift. He was heartbroken and then he scores. Then Reinhart, who played so hard on the wall, throws it up the wall and gets the game winner. There was justice in this game tonight.”
Bennett was crushed in the moment after he realized what happened but knew he had to keep a short memory to get the Panthers back in the game.
“The puck was coming across and I was just trying to bat it down in the corner back the way it came from,” Bennett said.
”It did not come off of my stick that way and it ended up finding the net. It’s an unfortunate play but you just gotta move on and not think about it.”
For a Florida team that had not completed a third-period (or, second-period) comeback all season, Bennett’s resolve set the tone for one which seemingly came at the perfect time.
“It was a heck of a play just to get his stick on that. Unfortunately, it goes in the back of our net,” Reinhart said.
”He has been playing some solid hockey, and some tough minutes at that, so for him to get us back in the game is fitting.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
ALL-STAR WEEKEND, SOUTH FLORIDA
- Wednesday: Florida Panthers Alumni Game at Panthers Ice Den, Coral Springs
- Thursday through Saturday: NHL All-Star Beach Festival at Fort Lauderdale Beach.
- Friday: Skills Competition at FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- Saturday: All-Star Game at FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- Up Next for the Panthers: vs. Tampa Bay, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m.