DUCKS 5, PANTHERS 3
BY GEORGE RICHARDS
ANAHEIM – The Panthers power play was obviously missing Steve Bernier.
The Panthers forward, who had been out since having facial surgery on Nov. 6, scored two power play goals to break Florida's drought in that department, but it was not enough as the Ducks won 5-3 at Honda Center.
Bernier, who got hit in the face by a stick-wielding Brent Burns in the moments following Florida's game against Minnesota on Nov. 5, ended with three points.
“It was my first game back and I felt good on the ice,'' said Bernier, who came into the game with just one goal this season. “That said, we needed to win that game. We didn't play for 60 minutes. That's why we lost.''
Florida trailed 3-0 but started its comeback when Mike Santorelli scored in the second. Bernier then scored Florida's first power play goal since Nov. 10 as Stephen Weiss' shot deflected off him and past Jonas Hiller to make it 3-2.
Less than a minute later, Tomas Vokoun gave up a goal to Corey Perry. Florida never rebounded from that one despite getting another Bernier goal late in the game after Vokoun left the net giving the Panthers a 6-on-4 advantage.
“That was huge,'' Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said of Perry's goal.
The Ducks closed out the Panthers with an empty net goal from Bobby Ryan in the final moments.
The Panthers have now lost four of their past five. Anaheim is now in a three-way tie with Phoenix and Dallas for the lead in a tight Pacific Division. Those three lead Los Angeles and San Jose by just three points.
Florida trailed 3-0 in the second period after the Ducks got two goals from bruiser George Parros (season total before Wednesday: 1) and one from captain Ryan Getzlaf. Parros and Getzlaf scored within a minute of each other to make it 3-0 as the Panthers defense gave up the puck twice deep in their zone.
“We didn't handle their forecheck pressure at all, we were soft all night with the puck and without it,'' coach Pete DeBoer said. “When their big guys were playing, it was men with boys. We didn't have the response physically and weren't firm and direct with the puck. That led to a lot of problems.''
The Panthers then showed a little grit by coming back, Santorelli pulling them within one after knocking in a puck near the net just over a minute after Parros' got his second of the night.
With just 14.6 seconds left in the second, the Panthers got their first power play chance of the night. They didn't score before the break, but did so 1:20 into the third when Weiss put up a shot that skipped off Bernier and past Jonas Hiller.
Before that, the Panthers hadn't put up a power play goal since Nov. 10 against Toronto – a 36-chance scoreless streak that had not only become a joke around the league but had Florida players and coaches laughing at the absurdity of it at practice.
“It hit me in the leg,'' Bernier said. “Hopefully that takes a little of the pressure off the power play guys, maybe we're a little more confident. There's always a positive in a game and that was a positive. Your job in the front of the net is to screen the goalie. Sometimes the puck goes off you, sometimes not.''
If the Panthers were going to come back, this was their chance. It was not to be as Perry one-timed a shot from the slot and beat Tomas Vokoun to give the Ducks their two-goal cushion back.
The Panthers visit Los Angeles Thursday night at 10:30 EST.
Florida Panthers Get Power Play Goals, Still Drown on Pond: Ducks 5, Cats 3
DUCKS 5, PANTHERS 3
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