Panthers break out of scoring slump to surprise Ducks
Hockey fans in Orange County are used to watching one powerful line dominate games with size, speed and a slick scoring touch.
Nick Bjugstad, Brad Boyes and Jonathan Huberdeau were that dominant line for the Florida Panthers on Sunday night, much to the embarrassment of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and the Anaheim Ducks.
Bjugstad had two goals and two assists, and Boyes scored twice during the Panthers' four-goal second period in a 6-2 victory.
Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck also scored as Florida opened a four-game road trip with a stunning blowout of the West-leading Ducks. Jussi Jokinen and Brian Campbell had two assists apiece in the highest-scoring performance of the season by the Panthers, who had an NHL-low 27 goals entering the game.
"It was just one of those games where everything was clicking, and we were all working hard," said Bjugstad, who had the highest-scoring game of his young career. "We knew what we were up against, and we were up to the challenge. That was exciting."
Boyes ended an eight-game goal drought and scored his 450th career point, adding an assist while staking Florida to a five-goal lead in the third period. He combined for nine points with Bjugstad and Huberdeau, who also had an assist.
Al Montoya made 33 saves for the Panthers, who hadn't won in Anaheim since Nov. 9, 2008.
It was an archetypal trap game for the Ducks, who faced Florida between a home-and-home set with the archrival Los Angeles Kings and two upcoming Pacific Division games in western Canada.
The Panthers made sure the Ducks fell straight into the snare.
"(Anaheim) played yesterday in Los Angeles and had a tough, emotional game," Florida coach Gerard Gallant said. "We caught them a little bit flat, for sure."
Hampus Lindholm and Andrew Cogliano scored for the Ducks, whose seven-game points streak ended in their fifth loss in six games despite the return of Perry, who missed the previous five games with mumps.
"I felt better than I expected, but it didn't go the way we planned for anybody," said Perry, the NHL's first star for October. "It was an off night for all of us. They've got some speed and some firepower over there, and they showed it tonight."
Kyle Palmieri also made his season debut for the Ducks, who had gone to overtime in their last five games, setting a franchise record. They couldn't keep it close after Frederik Andersen gave up three goals on Florida's first nine shots, getting chased for the second time in three games.
"No one in this room was ready, starting from the net on out," said Andersen, who returned for the third period after Jason LaBarbera gave up two more goals. "That's unacceptable in this league, and we paid for it."
Anaheim's improved defense has yielded 14 goals in three games, culminating with an inept effort that the Ducks didn't blame on their goalies.
"I think we're just embarrassed," Getzlaf said. "It's embarrassing to play like that in our building. Top to bottom, we weren't very good. We emotionally weren't there. We didn't make any plays that we needed to do."
Palmieri returned after sitting out 18 games with a sprained ankle, but injury-plagued Anaheim still is without defenseman Francois Beauchemin, who missed his fourth game with mumps, while Tim Jackman missed the game with the flu.
After Trocheck and Lindholm traded goals in the first period, Boyes put the Panthers back ahead early in the second when a sharp pass from Huberdeau deflected off his skate. Bjugstad chased Andersen moments later with a sharp-angled shot.
NOTES: Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu watched the game from a luxury suite. The longtime Ducks stars received a rousing ovation when they were shown on the video scoreboard. ... Anaheim put Devante Smith-Pelly on injured reserve to make room for Perry and Palmieri. Smith-Pelly missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Montoya got a rare start in place of Roberto Luongo, who historically struggles at Honda Center. ... Anaheim D Josh Manson got his first career NHL point with an assist on Cogliano's goal.