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3 posts from March 11, 2014

March 11, 2014

FLORIDA DOGS: Coyotes Complete Sunshine State Perfecta With 3-1 Win over Panthers

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

The Phoenix Coyotes sure did enjoy their quick trip through the Sunshine State.

Phoenix, battling for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, won for the second straight night as it topped the Panthers 3-1 Tuesday at BB&T Center.

The Coyotes, fresh off a shootout win over the host Lightning, join Boston as the second straight team to pull all four points on the Tampa/Sunrise back-to-back set.

"We never really put our foot down to push forward and find an answer,'' said former Coyotes' defenseman and current Florida captain Ed Jovanovski.

"They're fighting for their lives and we're fighting for different reasons.''

The Panthers, after shutting out Buffalo in Roberto Luongo's re-debut last Friday, have lost two straight and 10 of the past 13.

The Coyotes didn't trail on Tuesday as they rolled out goalie Mike Smith (31 saves) for the second straight night.

"He's always a factor for them, he's a great goalie,'' coach Peter Horachek said.

Phoenix opened the scoring late in the first when Keith Yandle's long shot was redirected past Luongo by Mike Ribiero.

The Coyotes put the Panthers in their familiar 2-0 hole midway through the second when Oliver Ekman-Larsson took aim with a long shot from just inside the blue line.

Phoenix all but ended Florida's night in the third when Radim Vrbata and Antoine Vermette hooked up on a pretty 2-on-1 rush.

"I need to find a way to make a save there,'' Luongo said.

Florida cut into its deficit in the third when Brandon Pirri scored his first goal since coming over to the Panthers in a trade with Chicago on March 2.

-- Winger Sean Bergenheim left during the second period and didn't return but said he didn't think the injury was serious.


LIMPING PANTHERS: Gudbranson, Winchester Out A Few Weeks; Bergenheim Leaves Tuesday's Game

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

Coach Peter Horachek said Erik Gudbranson's suspected knee injury isn't as severe as first thought but he'll likely be unavailable for the next few weeks.

"The scans came back better than we anticipated," Horachek said. "I  don't really have the exact timeline. We'll have to wait to see where it is, but in the short term we got good news with the scan .-.-. We were fearful there was more than we thought."

Florida also lost winger Jesse Winchester with an undisclosed lower body injury midway through the third of Sunday's loss to the Bruins. Winchester, having a career-year offensively, is also out for a few weeks.

The Panthers called up veteran defenseman Mike Mottau and winger Joey Crabb from AHL San Antonio.

-- Winger Sean Bergenheim missed Tuesday's morning skate "for maintenance,'' then left during the second period and didn't return.


DALLAS SCARE HITS HOME: Dan Ellis Thankful Rich Peverley, Friend and Former Teammate, Is Improving

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

When Dan Ellis heard Rich Peverley had collapsed on the Dallas bench during Monday night's game, he admitted he was scared and said a prayer for his good friend and former teammate.

Ellis was kept abreast of Peverley's situation from friends on the Stars' staff early in the ordeal and later by Peverley's wife.

"From what I've heard, he's doing well,'' said Ellis, who was traded to the Panthers from Dallas last week.

"You have to hope and pray for the best. You're thankful the doctors did as good a job as they did, thankful he's alive.''

Peverley, 31, didn't play in the season opener against the Panthers after missing the preseason for treatment of an irregular heartbeat. Peverley has been on medication and monitored all season and missed last week's game in Columbus because of it. Peverley did return to play against Vancouver two days later.

"When you can't be there for someone you care about .-.-. it's heartbreaking,'' said Ellis, who often rode with Peverley to games and practices during their time with the Stars.

Ellis said he and Peverley had extensive conversations on Peverley's health and the procedures he had and planned on undertaking.

Peverley was not allowed to drink alcohol or caffeine, Ellis said, and was going to have more work done in the offseason.

"Everything seemed to be under control, he did everything they said he needed to,'' Ellis said. "Then this happens.''