PANTHERS 2, COYOTES 1 (SO)
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Even though its an extremely small sample size and may have no real explanation, but the Panthers seem to play their best on the final game of a road trip.
On the opening trip through Canada, Florida's win was in game three at Calgary. The Panthers lost the first two on their second trip before winning in Montreal. Last month, the Panthers won on Long Island after a rough loss in Boston.
Perhaps the homesick Panthers can only fly home after wins?
Whatever it is, the Panthers got it going again Saturday night as Michael Frolik gave them a lead and then scored the shootout winner as Florida beat the Coyotes 2-1.
The Panthers have played in just two overtime games this season and have won both in a shootout. This one went five rounds with Mike Santorelli, Stephen Weiss and Frolik scoring to help Scott Clemmensen get his win after stopping 40 shots.
“We needed it, this was a tough road trip and we were either going home 1-3 or 2-2. There's a big difference,'' coach Pete DeBoer said. “This is a big win for us.''
The Panthers should have won the game earlier but failed on a golden power play chance in overtime.
Phoenix was called for two penalties in the overtime, giving the Panthers prime opportunity to get the win -- only the Panthers last-place power play again failed to score.
In the overtime session, the Panthers weren't doing much of anything until Ray Whitney was called for hooking 1:35 in. Florida went on the attack and did put pressure on Ilya Bryzgalov, but couldn't find the back of the net. Later in the overtime, the Coyotes were called for a bench minor, meaning the Panthers got to add a skater and held a 5-on-3 advantage for 36 seconds with a man advantage.
Still, the Panthers failed to score.
“Yeah we should have scored one,'' Frolik said. “We had good chances. Next time we have to put it in. We had a three minute power play. But this is a good two points.''
Said DeBoer: “Again, we got some good looks. Hey, we won the game.''
Frolik put the Panthers in the lead when he beat Ilya Bryzgalov midway through the second period. Phoenix answered about five minutes later when Martin Hanzal deflected a hard shot from Whitney and put it past Clemmensen on a power play. In the shootout, Clemmensen made three saves to get a Florida win.
“It was a complete team effort,'' Clemmensen said. “Everyone played so well from the defense out to the forwards. We needed a win, but we needed a total team effort. This is something we should be proud of and something we should build on.''
-- Radek Dvorak left the game in the second period after crashing head first into the boards after driving in hard on Bryzgalov. Dvorak charged in and lost his footing and went into the back boards extremely hard.
Dvorak looked woozy in the moments following the crash, but he left the ice under his own power. He did not return to the game.
A LITTLE TOUGHNESS
The Panthers could definitely need some more offense, but that's not why winger Kenndal McArdle was called up from the minors. McArdle, who has seven goals in 17 games with Florida's AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., was brought up to help add a little grit, a little speed and a little toughness to the lineup.
“These young guys come up and give you a burst of energy,'' coach Pete DeBoer said. “Sometimes they hit the wall. In the past we've interchanged guys on a regular basis to get that energy. Right now we feel Kenndal is that guy who can give us that as well as being a physical presence on the fourth line. It was time for a change.''
-- The Panthers were without winger Chris Higgins and Bryan Allen again Saturday because of foot injuries. Allen has a broken bone in his foot but has been skating and could be back in the lineup this week. Higgins has some sort of infection and is still hobbling around.
Florida Panthers Take to the Desert Just Fine on Saturday: Everglades Cats beat Coyotes 2-1 in Shootout ... Frolik Scores Twice (Sorta)
PANTHERS 2, COYOTES 1 (SO)