Sports

Panthers survive defensive meltdown, win Giroux’s home debut

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Florida Panthers left wing Ryan Lomberg (94) reacts after scoring a purpose in the course of the second interval of an NHL sport in opposition to the Montreal Canadiens on the FLA Reside Enviornment on Tuesday, March 29, 2022 in Dawn, Fl.

dsantiago@miamiherald.com

For an extended whereas Tuesday, the Florida Panthers have been on the verge of creating their newcomers’ first sport in Dawn a straightforward one. They have been up by three on the Montreal Canadiens with lower than 25 minutes to go, and Andrew Brunette was already experimenting with totally different lineup combos.

In lower than two minutes, the Panthers’ lead vanished, although, and Florida was caught in one other third-period battle, compelled to scratch out a 7-4 win on a game-winning purpose by Jonathan Huberdeau with 18:41 remaining.

It was one other win for these new-look Panthers — they’ve now received 3 of 4 since trade-deadline acquisitions Claude Giroux, Ben Chiarot and Robert Hagg debuted Thursday — but it surely was additionally one other combined efficiency for a gaggle nonetheless making an attempt to completely coalesce.

“When you make moves and get new players, it’s kind of hard to develop chemistry and feel,” Brunette stated. “Nights like tonight kind of give you an opportunity to move things around.”

The ultimate numbers painted an image of dominance for Florida — the Panthers outshot the Canadiens, 46-24, and had a 49-24 edge in scoring probabilities — and for the overwhelming majority of the sport the Panthers (45-15-6) have been in management. An terrible two-minute stretch on the finish of the second interval, nevertheless, was sufficient to make for an uneasy second intermission and a aggressive third interval.

Whereas Huberdeau gave Florida a 5-4 lead early within the third, the Panthers didn’t rating once more till 5:17 remained and the 15,587 inside FLA Reside Enviornment may lastly exhale. These two minutes made a sport in opposition to the worst staff within the NHL a lot harder than it ought to’ve been for first-place Florida.

“We were all over them,” Huberdeau stated. “We were in the zone and maybe having too much fun.”

For an extended stretch from the top of the primary interval deep into the second, the Panthers’ newest efficiency was additionally the perfect for this specific group. They scored 4 straight objectives in 11:14 of sport time to show a 1-0 deficit right into a 4-1 lead and held Montreal (18-37-11) to only 5 photographs on purpose within the second by spending nearly all the interval on offense. It took only one:42, nevertheless, for the Canadiens to tie the sport and expose the defensive points Florida nonetheless faces, even after the acquisitions of Chiarot and Hagg.

“We just got a little careless and it’s been a little bit of ongoing here and there, especially at home sometimes,” Brunette stated. “It’s just nights like tonight where we have the puck a lot and we feel good about ourselves. We’re not really managing that part of the game all that well.”

On offense, Florida did what it virtually all the time does. The Panthers are the one staff within the NHL averaging greater than 4 objectives per sport they usually scored their fourth Tuesday with 12:03 left within the second interval. They received contributions from their stars — Huberdeau scored a game-tying, shorthanded purpose with 3:43 left within the first perod for Florida’s first purpose — and their fourth line. Left wing Ryan Lomberg, a feisty fan favourite, put the Panthers forward 2-1 on a one-timer with 2:03 left within the first and gave them their 4-1 lead when he scored his second with 12:03 left within the second.

Lomberg punctuated his second purpose by pretending to fireside an arrow and Florida tried to make use of the massive cushion to experiment — and possibly chase a hat trick.

For the subsequent 10 minutes or so, Brunette took each offensive-zone faceoff as a possibility to stay Lomberg subsequent to Huberdeau and star heart Aleksander Barkov, making an attempt to get him a 3rd. The interim coach additionally break up up Barkov and Giroux for the primary time, having a look at how his new All-Star ahead may function away from his captain.

These experiments may solely final so lengthy, although. The protection — with its depth because the closest factor Florida has to a weak spot — was by no means good Tuesday, surrendering 14 high-danger probabilities. Within the second interval, the Canadiens solely examined star goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky 5 instances and beat him thrice, with two of these coming when the Panthers misplaced monitor of a Montreal skater in entrance of the online.

Though Chiarot had a main help within the second interval when a heavy level shot created a rebound probability for ahead Sam Bennett, the defenseman’s arrival — together with Hagg’s — was supposed to bolster the Panthers’ protection and Florida hasn’t but put collectively a lockdown effort, albeit with star defenseman Aaron Ekblad sidelined with a proper knee harm.

“They’re getting comfortable,” Brunette stated. “It’s a hard change as they’re coming from different teams and they play different styles.

100 Canadiens at Panthers DS.jpg
Florida Panthers left wing Ryan Lomberg (94) is congratulated by teammates Noel Acciari (55) Joe Thornton (19) Brandon Montour (62) after scoring the go ahead goal during the first period of an NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at the FLA Live Arena on Tuesday, March 29, 2022 in Sunrise, Fl. David Santiago dsantiago@miamiherald.com

Still, the Panthers’ offense is good enough to survive stretches like the one their defense went through Tuesday. It took only 1:19 in the third period for Huberdeau to score again — at the end of a pretty passing play by Lomberg and fellow forward Sam Bennett — and put Florida ahead for good 5-4.

With 5:17 left, winger Mason Marchment delivered the dagger and the Panthers came back from the brink of disaster to return to the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Said Lomberg: “We’ve got great leadership in that room.”

107 Canadiens at Panthers DS.jpg
Florida Panthers heart Noel Acciari (55) in ache after a play in the course of the first interval of an NHL sport in opposition to the Montreal Canadiens on the FLA Reside Enviornment on Tuesday, March 29, 2022 in Dawn, Fl. David Santiago dsantiago@miamiherald.com

Noel Acciari leaves with harm

Ahead Noel Acciari left in the course of the first interval and didn’t return.

Brunette stated the ahead is coping with an upper-body harm and can be reevaluated Wednesday.

“Hopefully, it’s nothing too serious,” the coach stated.

This story was initially revealed March 29, 2022 9:50 PM.

David Wilson, a Maryland native, is the Miami Herald’s utility man for sports activities protection.





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