Panthers can’t capitalize on opportunities in loss to Avalanche
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — The Colorado Avalanche came from behind and never looked back.
Nathan MacKinnon and Alexander Kerfoot scored 41 seconds apart in the second period and Colorado beat the Florida Panthers 7-3 on Saturday night to snap a four-game skid.
Colin Wilson, Erik Johnson and Mikko Rantanen also had goals for the Avalanche. Matt Nieto and Carl Soderberg both scored into an empty net late in the third, and Semyon Varlamov stopped 39 shots.
Colorado mustered only seven goals during its losing streak but equaled that total in this game.
“When you lose a handful in a row you’ve got to stick with the process,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “I think that’s what our guys did tonight.”
Jonathan Huberdeau, Denis Malgin and Aaron Ekblad scored for the Panthers, who have lost four of five. James Reimer made 23 saves.
“We had a lot of other opportunities to tie it up and we had a lot of opportunities not to let them get the chances that they got to score and go up that many,” Ekblad said.
After trailing 2-1, Colorado scored two quick goals in the second to take the lead.
MacKinnon threaded his way through the Panthers’ defense and beat Reimer at 11:26 to tie it. Tyson Barrie took a shot from the blue line and it was deflected by Kerfoot at 12:07 to give the Avalanche a 3-2 advantage.
Johnson fired a shot from above the right circle that went between Reimer’s pads with 8:01 left in the third to make it 4-2. Wilson added another goal with 6:18 remaining.
“We played a full game, a really strong game, scored lots of goals and played well defensively,” Varlamov said.
Florida pulled its goalie with 6:07 left and the strategy paid off on Huberdeau’s goal with 5:45 to go that closed the gap to 5-3.
Nieto and Soderberg scored empty-net goals in the final four minutes to close it out.
“We score that goal there, if it happens to be we get another one it’s game on with about three or four minutes to go,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. “You’ve got to keep fighting right to the end and that was the idea behind that.”
Malgin gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead on a breakaway when he put the puck past Varlamov on the glove side at 4:51 of the second. Malgin has a goal in three straight games and four in the past six.
The Avalanche took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period when Rantanen backhanded in a rebound at 10:56.
Florida tied the game with 2.6 seconds left in the first. Ekblad took a nice pass from Huberdeau in the right circle and fired a shot past Varlamov. The goal was Ekblad’s third in three games.
NOTES: Johnson left late in the third with an undisclosed injury. “I think he blocked a shot,” Bednar said. “I haven’t talked to the trainers.” … Huberdeau’s assist on Ekblad’s goal moved him past Ray Whitney for 10th place on the Panthers’ career scoring list with 228 points. … Ekblad is the third defenseman in Panthers history to score at least one goal in three-plus team games. … Panthers C Aleksander Barkov was scratched with an upper-body injury. … Johnson appeared in his 400th game with the Avalanche.
Avalanche: Visit the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday.
Panthers: Visit the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.
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