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Enroth, Stars defeat shorthanded Panthers

by Alain Poupart

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The shorthanded Florida Panthers got a point on Thursday but were unable to solve Dallas Stars goalie Jhonas Enroth in the shootout, losing 4-3 at BB&T Center.

Enroth, who replaced starter Kari Lehtonen in the second period, stopped all three Panthers shooters, and Colton Sceviour scored the lone shootout goal in the third round.

Enroth is 6-0 in shootouts this season and has stopped 23 of 24 attempts for the Buffalo Sabres and the Stars, who he joined in a trade Feb. 11.

It was Enroth's first victory with the Stars after he was 0-4-0. He stopped Brandon Pirri and Vincent Trocheck. Nick Bjugstad's shot missed the net.

"We know this goalie is good in shootouts,"???Bjugstad said. "We've got to find a way to score there. It's super frustrating. We watched video, we watched one guy score on him out of the 24 shots. It's tough when you lose like that."

Sceviour is 2-for-2 in shootouts after beating Florida goalie Dan Ellis with a deke to his backhand.

Ellis made his first start of the season because of injuries sustained by Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya in a 3-2 loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

Dallas (29-26-10)???is 3-3 in shootouts; Florida is 6-10.

In addition to Luongo and Montoya, the Panthers were missing defensemen Erik Gudbranson and Willie Mitchell, and forward Jaromir Jagr because of the flu.

"We got one; that was a big point,"???Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "I'm not one for making excuses, but tonight it didn't look too good coming into the game. We found out guys were sick, didn't show up to the game, and then four guys played tonight pretty sick too. We would have loved to get two (points), but we got one."

Florida led 3-2 before defenseman Alex Goligoski tied the game at 12:21 of the third with a wrist shot from the point.

Shawn Horcoff had a goal and an assist, and Curtis McKenzie scored for the Stars, who won each game in the season series.

Dallas' 2-0 home victory Feb. 13 was marred by a low hit by Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov on center Tyler Seguin that knocked Seguin out with a knee injury. Kulikov was given a four-game suspension.

Seguin missed his 10th consecutive game Thursday, although he skated in the morning and could be back within a week.

Kulikov had a goal and an assist in the second period, and started a Gordie Howe Hat Trick???with a fight in the first.

"Everything that I???was expecting happened,"???Kulikov said. "They stick up for their teammate. I wasn’t going to back down. When they saw the opportunity to ask me to fight, we fought.

"I???felt more relaxed (after the fight), I guess, because before that happened I???was kind of waiting. When is it going to happen????When is it going to happen????After that it felt like I could start playing."

Pirri and Jonathan Huberdeau had the other goals for the Panthers, who are 2-2-1 on their season-long seven game homestand, which continues Saturday against the New York Islanders.

Pirri's goal was his 10th in his past 13 games; Huberdeau ended an 18-game drought.

Florida (28-23-14)?????????remained two points behind the Boston Bruins for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. Boston, which has two games in hand, lost to the Calgary Flames 4-3 in a shootout Thursday.

Lehtonen was pulled after Huberdeau's goal gave the Panthers a 3-2 lead at 12:28 of the second period. He allowed three goals on 14 shots.

Lehtonen made 37 saves for one of his four shutouts this season when the Stars defeated the Panthers on Feb. 13.

"It is what you make it,"?????????Enroth said of coming off the bench. "If you tell yourself it’s going to be difficult, it's difficult. I told myself I was going to be fine. I prepare well for the game, I was pretty calm when they put me in."

Ellis, acquired in a trade with the Stars exactly one year ago, made 29 saves.

Ellis, who was recalled Wednesday from San Antonio of the American Hockey League, remained winless with the Panthers. He was 0-5-0 with a 4.81 goals-against average and .836 save percentage in six appearances last season.

"I?????????thought there'd be a little bit of nerves, but honestly maybe playing against my old team and stuff like that, having some friends on the team probably helps," Ellis said. "It seems like every time I change teams I?????????always play the old team that I came from. I?????????felt good in there. I would have liked to get the second point, but getting one and trying to help a little bit from that perspective is a positive."

Dallas is eight points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card in the Western Conference.

The Stars began a five-game road trip that continues Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"Right now it's very important,"?????????Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "They're extra points that you’re really frustrated when you lose a shootout but pretty happy when you win. When you start a trip of five on the road, to win a shootout is a good thing for this club."

Dallas took a 2-1 lead after the first period before Kulikov tied the game with his third goal of the season at 8:15 of the second. After serving a penalty for holding, Kulikov took a perfect clearing feed from Jussi Jokinen and beat Lehtonen on a breakaway.

"I?????????guess that's the only time I?????????can get a breakaway,"?????????Kulikov said. "Actually it happened for the first time in my career. Kind of happy I?????????put it in."

Huberdeau, who had four assists in his past two games, scored his first goal since Jan. 29 at 12:28 when his shot from the left dot found its way between Lethonen's legs.

Pirri also beat Lehtonen through the five-hole at 17:00 of the first to make it 2-1. Pirri came in alone after the Stars were caught in a line change.

McKenzie, who fought Kulikov at 12:24 of the first period, opened the scoring at 2:33 after a turnover at the Florida blue line. He redirected Jason Demers' pass between Ellis' legs.

Horcoff made it 2-0 at 12:41 after stealing the puck from rookie Aaron Ekblad at center ice and coming in on a 2-on-1. Defenseman Brian Campbell deflected Horcoff’s cross-ice pass attempt past Ellis.

A minute later, Gallant called timeout and told his players they couldn’t afford to feel sorry for themselves.

"I???????????????????????????think we got a little bit of that tonight starting the game,"???????????????????????????Gallant said. "All of a sudden it’s either battle back or lose the game by a blowout because it was 2-0 early and we weren’t playing well at all. I???????????????????????????think the guys decided, 'Let's compete and let's battle hard.' Never mind feeling sorry for ourselves. I’m not happy about the one point, but tomorrow I’m going to be happy and we're going to move on and we're going to get some players back hopefully healthy tomorrow and the next day and get ready for a big game on Saturday."

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