Frolik’s third-period goal gives Panthers 4-3 win
By SARAH LARIMER
Associated Press Writer
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) Late Atlanta goals have proved problematic for the Florida Panthers this season. On Wednesday night, the Panthers found a way to turn the tables.
Michael Frolik scored with 1:21 left to lift the Panthers to a 4-3 victory over the Thrashers on Wednesday night.
Stephen Weiss, Radek Dvorak and Bryan McCabe also scored for Florida, and Tomas Vokoun stopped 20 shots.
“It wasn’t textbook or a video that I’m going to do a whole lot of studying of,” Florida coach Pete DeBoer said. “But it was a good two points and I think a deserved two points.”
Ilya Kovalchuk, Nik Antropov and Vyacheslav Kozlov scored for Atlanta, which overcame a three-goal deficit to tie it in the third.
“For some reason, our third period is the best this year,” Kozlov said. “We’ve come back (in some games) to win in the third. So far we’re not in the playoff zone and we’re trying to make some points.”
Johan Hedberg made 25 saves for Atlanta.
On the winning goal, Frolik poked in a rebound, putting the puck high in the net.
The Thrashers had already twice met the Panthers this season, both games that ended in disappointment for Florida. Maxim Afinogenov scored the winning goal with 6 seconds remaining to lift the Thrashers to a 4-3 win Nov. 30, and Kovalchuk scored with 1:04 left in regulation in a Dec. 5 game that the Thrashers eventually won 2-1 in a shootout.
Kovalchuk started Atlanta’s comeback with his 18th goal of the season. His slap shot from the left circle beat Vokoun and cut Florida’s lead to 3-1 with 2:08 left in the second period. Atlanta made it 3-2 at 1:59 of the third when Antropov, positioned in front of Vokoun at the crease, pushed a rebounding puck under the goalie’s legs.
The Thrashers tied it at 6:27 of the third period when Kozlov picked up a loose puck in the high slot and scored on a slap shot.
“Apparently not enough, too little too late, I guess,” Atlanta coach John Anderson said. “It was a bit of payback for them.”
McCabe scored at 2:54 in the second period to give Florida a 3-0 lead. He took a pass from Victor Oreskovich then shot from the right circle, sending the puck under a leaping Florida player and into the net for his fourth goal of the season.
The Panthers made it 2-0 with Dvorak’s goal at 8:19 in the first period. Dvorak took a pass from Steven Reinprecht and scored with a shot from the low slot.
Weiss opened the scoring at 6:42 in the first. Hedberg stopped the initial shot from Nathan Horton, but then Weiss put in the rebounding puck with a wrist shot. It was the 16th goal of the season for Weiss and his third in three games.
“I’m glad we got the win,” DeBoer said. “We were on the other end of one of those in Atlanta a couple weeks ago and it’s tough to lose games like that. But on the flip side, I thought we did a lot of things well tonight.”
NOTES: DeBoer said Panthers C Gregory Campbell (upper-body injury) might be able to return Friday night against Carolina. Campbell, who turns 26 on Thursday, has missed five games. … Panthers LW David Booth (concussion) has resumed light skating. He was on the ice Wednesday morning, but left early.
Updated December 16, 2009