REFS GIVETH, TAKETH AWAY: Panthers take advantage of late non-calls and a weak one to top Colorado 4-3 in OT ... Roberto Luongo makes big saves, passes the Beezer for 13th all-time
DENVER -- After a number of questionable calls went against them, the Panthers got a couple to go their way.
It didn't even things up in their minds, but winning in the end sure helped tip the scales.
Brad Boyes' power play goal led the Panthers to a rousing 4-3 victory over the Avalanche at Pepsi Center late Tuesday night.
Florida was on the power play only after Brad Stuart was called for tripping Aleksander Barkov although he didn't touch him but at all.
Although Stuart's call wasn't as egregious as the goalie interference call on Florida's Nick Bjugstad nor the delay of game penalty on Erik Gudbranson, the Panthers took what they could get.
"There were a few calls we didn't think were the right ones but they let some of ours go late in the game that they owed us,'' Boyes said.
"I don't know if it evened out because they tied it [on Gudbranson's call]. That was tough for us and got them back into it.''
Florida led 2-0 for the first time this season and were making the Avs look slow and sloppy throughout the first and into the second.
The Panthers were called for their first penalty of the night with 10:56 left in the second when Boyes got nabbed for high sticking.
Moments later, the game turned Gudbranson was called for delay of game although television replays showed the puck deflect off the glass.
The four-man crew huddled and made the call putting the Panthers down two skaters for 1:03.
It only took the Avs 50 seconds to get their first goal with former Broward youth player Tyson Barrie burying a shot.
Still on the power play, Colorado tied it up by scoring twice within a 31 second span as Gabe Landeskog scored on a close-range shot over Roberto Luongo's shoulder.
"It was a tough stretch,'' said Luongo, who passed former Panthers' goalie John Vanbiesbrouck for 13th all-time with 375 career victories.
The Avs eventually took a 3-2 lead when Alex Tanguay's long shot skipped off the skates of Florida's Sean Bergenheim and past Luongo.
Instead of folding as the Panthers have been known to do, Florida fought back and evened things up before the second intermission when Bergenheim got his second of the season (not counting Tanguay's) by redirecting a long shot from Dylan Olsen.
"I felt good out there, our line felt good out there,'' said Bergenheim, who was reunited with Florida's 'Killer B' line alongside Boyes and Barkov. That trio combined for three goals.
"But all our lines were working really well too. That's what we have to keep working on, chemistry on all the lines.''
The two teams kept things tight in the third but Colorado looked to re-take the lead when Bjugstad was called for interfering with goalie Reto Berra.
Bjugstad was driving the net trying to score when he was tripped up by Berra when he came out to play the puck.
"I thought they called it on the goalie and then they had the puck,'' Bjugstad said. "I don't know what happened. I don't think I interfered with the goalie. He tripped me as I was making a move so my shoulder went into him a little bit. You can't blame the refs. We won.''
Luongo started heading to the Florida bench thinking the call would go against Colorado. When he realized the Avs were rushing up ice and no whistle had blown, Luongo rushed back to his position and made an awkward save on Landeskog.
"I thought, for sure, it was a hook or something especially when the goalie came charging out,'' Luongo said. "I was coming to the bench, saw them with the puck and thought maybe the ref was confused a bit. Then there was no whistle and I was able to race back, thank God, before they got an empty net goal. It would have been ugly if they would have scored like that.''
After that, however, the calls all went Florida's way.
The Panthers should have been nabbed for having too many men on the ice and weren't. Tomas Fleischmann was dead to rights on a tripping call and was ignored. And then came the penalty on Stuart to put Florida at a 4-on-3 advantage in overtime.
A power play in overtime is usually successful as this one proved to be as well.
"We played hard, competed hard and the game ended the way it should have,'' said coach Gerard Gallant, who was very animated during the game in conversations with the officials.
"I got pretty frustrated but we kept fighting back. The guys held their composure.''
The Panthers were cruising right along as they enjoyed their biggest offensive output of the season in the opening period.
Florida took the initial lead 4:43 into the game when Brandon Pirri scored his first of the year off a booming slap shot from 45 feet out.
The Panthers dominated play in the Colorado zone and made it 2-0 when Aaron Ekblad's slick cross-ice pass found Barkov before finding the back of the net.
Barkov roofed one past Berra for his first NHL goal this season and since Jan. 14. Barkov missed most of the second half of last year with a knee injury.
-- Florida's penalty kill was put to work in the second period as the Panthers were called for four penalties (three quite questionable) in the span of 10 minutes.
The Panthers killed off two of the four Colorado power plays that originated in the second period. Bergenheim's hooking call came at the end of the second and bled into the third.
-- The Panthers can thank the Denver Broncos for their lengthy road trip this week.
Tuesday's game in Denver was originally supposed to be played Thursday.
But with the Broncos already scheduled for Thursday Night Football, the Avs asked the Panthers if the game could be moved up so not to conflict with the popular football team.
So instead of flying home from Washington on Saturday night and heading to Colorado on Wednesday, the Panthers will spend 10 days on the road to play four games.
The Panthers are 2-0-1 in the first three games heading into Saturday's game at Arizona. Florida now has at least a point in all four of its road games this season.