Florida Panthers Post-Game Recap: Game #61 Vs. the Vegas Golden Knights:
Florida headed into Vegas after winning their last game in thrilling fashion, a game-winning goal in overtime by Frank Vatrano (I’ll miss you buddy) against the San Jose Sharks. Florida will play Vegas in the first game of a back-to-back before coming back home prior to heading to Canada to continue the road trip later next week. This matchup featured Spencer Knight making his third consecutive start in net, while Vegas looked to Logan Thompson to tend their goal.
The first period was about as wide open as you would expect a Florida/Vegas matchup. The shots on goal in the first was 16–14 in favor of the Panthers, who lead the NHL in shots on goal per game. The Panthers would open the scoring at 8:04 when Carter Verhaeghe would net his 21st of the season to put Florida ahead 1–0. A scary moment then a couple minutes later as Verhaeghe was attempting to break into the Vegas zone on a breakaway he would get tangled up between two Vegas defenders and skate directly into Vegas goalie Thompson. Both Verhaeghe and Thompson would be okay, and both would remain in the game. Vegas would pressure Spencer Knight in the back half of the period, eventually getting one past him as Brett Howden would score his ninth of the season to tie the game. The puck would deflect in off of Florida’s defenseman Brandon Montour so there wasn’t much Knight could do on that shot. The horn would sound signaling the end of the first, and both teams would head to the dressing rooms tied at one.
Vegas began the second period on a mission. They were stifling Florida’s attempts at breaking through with their signature stretch passes through the neutral zone, and applying heavy pressure on the forecheck. They would be rewarded after a turnover by Florida in the neutral zone led to a great chance by former Panther Evgenii Dadonov, which he buried at 5:38 to put Vegas ahead 2–1. The defense would begin to tighten up for both sides until Vegas would begin to carry the momentum. Florida’s Mackenzie Weegar would take a penalty for Interference, and Vegas would score on the subsequent Power Play. It would be Evgenii Dadonov with the deflection for his second of the game, at 14:32 to give Vegas the 3–1 lead. Florida would provide some pushback for the remainder of the second period, and Sam Bennett would be rewarded for the effort with a goal at 17:38 to bring the Panthers within one goal. The Cats would enter the second intermission down 3–2, and needing a big third period effort to come back in this one.
Unfortunately for the Cats, the third period would not ultimately go their way. They did have a sense of urgency early on in the period, however it wasn’t amounting to many scoring chances. Florida had trouble all night long getting clean passes through the neutral zone, and give Vegas credit for coming out tonight with the desperation to win this game. Florida would be given their first Power Play opportunity with about eight minutes remaining in the game, and they would take full advantage. Sam Reinhart would score his 23rd goal of the season to tie the game 3–3. Florida would put significant pressure on Vegas for the remainder of the period, however an unfortunate turnover by Bennett would lead to a Nicholas Roy breakaway goal to pull Vegas ahead 4–3 with about 6 minutes remaining in the game. Florida would pull the goalie with about 3 minutes remaining, and another costly turnover led to an empty-netter by William Karlsson to salt this game away 5–3.
Spencer Knight played a decent game, but was hung out to dry on a few of Vegas’ chances. He saved 28 out of 32 shots. Logan Thompson earned himself the win in his sixth career NHL start, saving 33 of the 36 shots he faced.
The Panthers only have themselves to blame for this loss. Despite only seeing one Power Play opportunity all night, sloppy play and costly turnovers was the team’s downfall in this one. Patric Hornqvist was injured, and was not on the Panthers bench at the start of the third period. His status is unknown for tomorrow’s game.
Lost in the bad play tonight was that Aaron Ekblad assisted on all three of Florida’s goals, and have moved into sole possession of the most points by a Defenseman in Florida’s franchise history. So congrats to Aaron Ekblad on his remarkable career up to this point.
The Panthers will look to shake off this loss tomorrow night, as they head into Anaheim to face the Ducks. That game will also be at 10:30pm ET.
- 1–0 (FLA): Carter Verhaeghe (21) at 8:04, assisted by Eetu Luostarinen (10) and Aaron Ekblad (40)
- 1–1 (VGK): Brett Howden (9) at 17:09, assisted by Michael Amadio (6) and Keegan Kolesar (14)
- 2–1 (VGK): Evgenii Dadonov (13) at 5:38, assisted by Derrick Pouliot (1)
- 3–1 (VGK): Evgenii Dadonov (14)(PPG) at 14:32, assisted by Shea Theodore (29) and Jack Eichel (5)
- 3–2 (FLA): Sam Bennett (25) at 17:38, assisted by Anthony Duclair (22) and Aaron Ekblad (41)
- 3–3 (FLA): Sam Reinhart (23)(PPG) at 12:26, assisted by Aaron Ekblad (42) and Aleksander Barkov (35)
- 4–3 (VGK): Nicholas Roy (12) at 13:23, unassisted
- 5–3 (VGK): William Karlsson (8)(ENG) at 18:10, unassisted