After Thursday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Kings, Florida Panthers coach Paul Maurice said he needed to see other players step up.
The team’s top line of Carter Verhaeghe, Sasha Barkov and Sam Reinhart each played over 23 minutes and accounted for the team’s lone goal.
It was not ideal with a game the next day.
While the big headline going into the game was the returns of Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour, the Panthers got help from all over the lineup.
Anton Lundell and Eetu Luostarinen snapped lengthy cold streaks to contribute to both of Florida’s goals in a 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks.
They had combined for just a goal and seven assists in the first 16 games for the Panthers.
“After the first goal, we got more energy and more confidence and that just kept rolling,” Lundell said. “We had a lot of chances, could have had more goals but today, it was enough for us. It was a great effort from Stolarz and the whole team.”
Luostarinen got his first goal of the year with 5:10 to go in the first period, stuffing in a feed from Lundell near the front of the net to put the Panthers ahead.
Lundell connected Oliver Ekman-Larsson less than four minutes later.
On a night where he was demoted to the third pairing upon the return of Montour and Ekblad, Ekman-Larsson beat John Gibson glove side with a quick wrist shot from the bottom of the face-off circle.
Florida needed just as much help from their two young forwards in the third period when Barkov left with a knee injury less than a minute in.
“He is a big part of our group and it’s tough to see a guy like that go down,” Ekman-Larsson said. “But the guys played good and stepped up. Lundell and Luostarinen had an unbelievable game tonight.”
Both helped the Panthers hunker things down and earn the win.
“Their goaltender was real good and our goaltender was real good at the end,” Maurice said. “There was a bit of survival.”
Barkov, meanwhile, will be evaluated when the team returns to South Florida on Saturday evening.
Maurice did not have an update on him following the game.
Anthony Stolarz stopped 34 of 35 shots to earn his second-straight win and three in four starts since joining the Panthers in July.
“He was our best player today,’’ Lundell said.
Stolarz stopped 15 of 16 shots in the third period behind a shorthanded Florida team exhausted in the second half of a back-to-back.
“I have been shooting on him for a while now and he takes up a lot of net,” Ekblad told Bally Sports Florida following the game. “He played a fantastic game for us, made some key saves at big moments.’’
Vatrano scored the lone goal on Stolarz 7:39 into the third period, potting an Adam Henrique rebound past him to spoil the shutout bid.
It was Vatrano’s second goal in three games against Florida since they traded him to the New York Rangers at the 2022 trade deadline.
Stolarz, meanwhile, was playing in his first game back in Anaheim since leaving the Ducks for the Panthers in free agency.
Anaheim came close to tying the game with 7:49 to go.
Jakob Silfverberg nearly beat Stolarz on a wrap-around chance, but he just got to it with his pad near the goal line.
After an initial no-goal call and a five-minute video review, the call stood and the Panthers kept their 2-1 lead.
Per the NHL’s situation room, there was “no conclusive video evidence” to overturn the call, thus upholding the call on the ice.
That ended up being the difference despite the best efforts of the Ducks.
PANTHERS ON DECK
EDMONTON OILERS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Monday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL App
- This Season: @Florida, Monday; @ Edmonton, Dec. 16
- Last season: Edmonton won 2-0
- All-time regular season series: Edmonton leads 23-14-0, 3 ties