Florida Panthers come back from two-goal deficit, defeat Coyotes 3-2

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 19: Nick Bjugstad
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 19: Nick Bjugstad /

The Florida Panthers are closing out their road trip against the struggling Arizona Coyotes. Would the Cats come out victorious in the desert tonight?

The Panthers got off to a rough start, pinned down in their own zone by Coyotes’ forwards. Arizona, who are currently last place in the entire league, came out with great hunger and determination to win this hockey game. Thankfully, because of James Reimer’s solid presence, the game remain scoreless for the time being.

Throughout the course of the period, the Panthers were taking unnecessary penalties over and over again. Between Keith Yandle for holding, and Aaron Ekblad for tripping, the Cats just couldn’t stay out of the box. Because of this, the Coyotes were gifted precious time in the Panthers zone, searching for the first goal of the game.

Eventually, with under five minutes left in the opening period, the Coyotes opened up the scoring. Christian Fischer tipped home an initial shot from Clayton Keller, giving Arizona a 1-0 lead. Fischer’s goal would send the Panthers to the locker room, a goal down after one period of play.

The second period was a little like the first, with the Arizona Coyotes completely dominating the Florida Panthers in their end. The Cats just couldn’t seem to get the puck out, relying heavily on the play of James Reimer in-goal. Luckily for the Panthers, Reimer was able to make some big saves like this one down below:

But despite all the saves that James was making, he just couldn’t save them all. That’s right, he couldn’t, and eventually the Coyotes would double their lead with under two minutes in the second period. Derek Stepan would pounce on a rebound and bury home the game’s second goal.

The Cats would find some life however, with Nick Bjugstad cutting the Coyotes lead in half. Derek MacKenzie quickly won the draw, backhanding a pass to Bjugstad in the circle. Big Nick then quickly snapped a wrister, giving the Panthers some light in this game:

Bjugstad’s goal would come with 9.7 seconds left in the period, ultimately sending his side to the locker room, a goal down, after two periods of play. The Cats were badly outplayed in both periods, being outshot 32-14.

The third and final however, would be the one where the Panthers would turn things around. Early on, the Cats were firing on all cylinders, looking for the game’s tying goal. Luckily for them, they wouldn’t have to wait long as Denis Malgin evened up the game early on.

Vinnie Trocheck won a battle at the Coyotes blue line, chipping the puck to Jamie McGinn, who would speed off on a 2 on 1 with Denis Malgin. As soon as McGinn found Malgin on the wing wide open, Denis quickly sniped a shot top-shelf, tying the game at two goals a piece.

A couple of minutes after Malgin’s tying goal, and the Panthers struck again. Michael Matheson took the puck just past the neutral zone, and quickly rushed down the ice by himself. Through all of it, Matheson went through the Coyotes defense like butter and buried a shot between Raanta’s legs:

Arizona fought hard to tie the game, but came up short. Michael Matheson’s goal would end up being the game’s winning goal, giving the Florida Panthers a 3-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

Overall, The Florida Panthers played a great third period, but an awful first and second. Had that been a better opponent, and they surely would have lost. A little luck was on Florida’s side tonight, which is needed sometimes in hockey to win. Your Panthers are back in action on Friday, December 22nd @ 7:30pm against the Minnesota Wild