Friday, February 12, 2016

Blues Step On Panthers

     The Florida Panthers started a six-game homestand with a 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues at BB&T Center on Friday night. Roberto Luongo passed Glenn Hall for sixth place in NHL history with 907 games played in net.
     The Cats, who have now gone 1-7-0 in their last eight games with the Blues, began a stretch in which nine of their next eleven opponents are from the Western Conference. The Panthers also lost for the first time in regulation this season when they scored at least three goals and moved to 23-1-1 in that situation.
     After being outshot 5-0 in the first four minutes of the contest, Florida(32-17-6) took a 1-0 lead at 5:05. Shawn Thornton put a slapshot from the right wing on goal which was saved by Brian Elliott. Derek MacKenzie swept in the rebound from the blue paint for his sixth goal this season.
     St. Louis(31-17-9) tied the game 1-1 at 12:16 of the period. David Backes had the puck at his own blue line and banked it off the side boards and went around Aaron Ekblad. He recovered it and snapped a shot from left circle that trickled by Luongo.
     The Blues took their first lead of the game at 15:58 of the first. Colton Parayko fired a shot from the top right circle which was stopped, however Jaden Schwartz skated through the crease and put in the rebound. Schwartz had missed the last 49 games due to a fractured left ankle and last played on October 23.
     The Cats surrendered a power-play goal with 18.9 seconds remaining in the first and fell behind 3-1. A pass by Paul Stastny from the end wall went off the skate of Alex Petrovic. Robby Fabbri got the puck in the low slot and he scored from close range. Al Montoya replaced Luongo in net following the end of the first period.
      In the second period, St. Louis made it a four-goal cushion at the eight-minute mark. Former Panther Jay Bouwmeester fired a wrist shot on net from the slot area which was saved, but Vladimir Tarasenko poked in the rebound inside the blue paint for his 27th goal of the season.
     The Panthers attempted to crawl back into the game midway through the stanza and pulled to 4-2. Ekblad blasted a slapshot from the top of the zone following a feed across by Jonathan Huberdeau at 10:44.
     Florida cut the gap to 4-3 at 10:47 of the third period. Brian Campbell connected a pass to Huberdeau in the left circle and he scored on a snap shot.
     The Blues stopped the momentum at 12:17 as they regained a two-goal lead. Backes passed the puck around the Panthers cage to Alexander Steen in the left corner. He brought it to the left of the crease and lifted a backhand shot over the right shoulder of Montoya.

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