SUNRISE, Fla. (AP)Aaron Ekblad scored the tiebreaking goal in the second period and the Florida Panthers beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 on Saturday night.
The Panthers scored three times in the second and sent Vancouver to its fourth straight loss in a five-game trip that wraps up Sunday in Carolina.
Ryan Lomberg, Eric Staal and Aleksander Barkov also scored for Florida. Sergei Bobrovsky made 35 saves.
”A win is a win,” Ekblad said. ”We held a lead in the third period.”
Jack Studnicka, Tyler Myers and Elias Pettersson scored for the Canucks. Spencer Martin had 31 saves in the loss.
Vancouver had leads of 1-0 and 2-1 on goals from Studnicka and Myers, but Florida had three unanswered goals in the second to take control.
”We were starting to run out of gas in the third,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said. ”We’re taking the win.”
Studnicka gave the Canucks the initial lead 1:35 into the game on a floating shot that beat Bobrovsky. Lomberg countered for Florida about seven minutes later.
Myers restored the Canucks’ lead with a long shot. But, Florida scored the next three – including two off the power play – to take a 4-2 lead into the third.
Staal quickly tied the score at 2 by knocking in a shot from Josh Mahura a minute after Myers’ goal.
Florida took its first lead on Ekblad’s slap shot from the left circle at 3:06 and Barkov scored from the right circle at 9:51.
Vancouver closed to within a goal on Pettersson’s power-play score midway through the period, but the Canucks couldn’t get any closer.
”I talked to them after the game, but it was too little, too late,” Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau said. ”We played hard in the third period, but when you give up a two-goal lead going into the third period, statistics show you’re not, for the most part, going to catch up and win. It is pretty difficult right now. It is hard to take. I don’t think anyone likes losing.”
The three goals scored against Bobrovsky were all long shots from just inside the blue line. According to stats from the NHL, the three goals allowed traveled an average distance of 58 feet.
Maurice joked that Bobrovsky had ”his reading glasses” on.
”He was really good in tight,” Maurice said. ”I have never a guy play as well and make the saves he made from 10 feet out and miss a few from deep. It does not matter right now. He did what he needed to do to get us the win.”
NOTES: The Panthers had forward Anthony Duclair participate in their morning skate on Saturday, the first time he had joined his teammates for a formal practice since having Achilles tendon surgery during the offseason. Duclair scored a career-high 31 goals for Florida last season. He is expected to return to the lineup after the All-Star break. . Florida made Zac Dalpe, Chris Tierney and Casey Fitzgerald healthy scratches on Saturday. Dalpe was placed on waivers and would return to the Panthers’ AHL team in Charlotte if he clears on Sunday. The Canucks scratched Sheldon Dries, Travis Dermott and Kyle Burroughs.
Canucks: At Carolina on Sunday.
Panthers: At Buffalo on Monday.
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