« RANGER DANGER: Panthers Give Solid Effort, Mistakes Costly in 4-3 Loss to Rangers | Main | VERSTEEG TRADED: Winger Back to Champion Blackhawks »

JUST DUCKY: Panthers Losing Streak Ends at 9, Cats Beat Anaheim 3-2

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

Peter Horachek will cherish his first victory as head coach in the NHL -- although probably not as much as the Panthers do.

The Panthers ended their nine-game losing streak with a improbable 3-2 victory over Anaheim at BB&T Center on Tuesday.

The Ducks, despite the loss, still have the best record in the league as they have as many regulation losses (four) as the Panthers have wins (four).

"I wasn't sure it was ever going to end,'' said Shawn Matthias, who started things off with a second period goal.

"It feels good for everyone, we got the coach his first win. That's a good team. We're all happy and ready to move onto the next one.''

The Panthers needed a win Tuesday in the worst way what with another loss putting them in close proximity of the worst losing streak (13 games) in franchise history.

Florida, which hadn't won since beating the Wild 2-1 in a shootout Oct. 19, embarks on a five-game road trip that starts against that same Minnesota team on Friday.

"This is not about me. This is about the team,'' said Horachek, 1-2 since replacing the fired Kevin Dineen last week.

"The team has to learn how to win, to learn what it feels to be winners. They feel pretty good right now. They worked hard and got back in it. They needed to win a game. It had been nine of them. Winning is about the team, not individuals.''

With the way Tuesday started, it looked like Loss No. 10 was inevitable. Anaheim, which had won five straight, took a 1-0 lead just 40 seconds in when Andrew Cogliano froze Tim Thomas with a nice move on the doorstep and scored.

The Ducks then made it 2-0 with just over five minutes left as the Panthers heard about their lack of spark from their new coaching staff at the break.

"We have a lot of work to do,'' Horachek said, "but I'm real proud of the way they responded against a team like that. There was a lot of heart, a lot of effort.''

The Panthers had life when Matthias whipped a backhanded shot past goalie Frederik Andersen late in the second. Scottie Upshall followed suit a minute later to tie the score.

Florida took its first and only lead of the night 4:29 into the third when Brad Boyes followed up a shot from Upshall and knocked it through. The Panthers successfully killed off a late hooking penalty from Upshall as Thomas was strong with 32 saves.

"We're playing better as a group and [Tuesday] was an example of having Tim Thomas in net,'' said Upshall, who has three goals in the past two weeks.

"He's a competitor. He lets in a goal and he gets ticked. He's not letting in any more. He led the way. If we can follow on that, we're going to get chances, score and be in games.''

Thomas said he got into a groove as the night went on and wasn't going to let his teammates down.

"I had a good feeling we were going to win that one,'' Thomas said.


Veteran defenseman Mike Mottau played in his first NHL game since the end of the 2011-12 season on Tuesday after being recalled from Florida's AHL affiliate in San Antonio.

Mottau played in place of Matt Gilroy on Tuesday. Ryan Whitney cleared waivers over the weekend and was sent to San Antonio after Sunday's game in New York.