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game recap

Bobrovsky, Panthers spoil Kuemper's return for Coyotes

Makes 37 saves in Florida win; Arizona goalie plays for first time since Dec. 19

by Alan Robinson / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

Hoffman's PPG breaks tie in 3rd

FLA@ARI: Hoffman nets PPG after quick passing

Mike Hoffman scores a power-play goal after a crisp passing sequence to put the Panthers ahead in the 3rd period

  • 00:43 •

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Darcy Kuemper made 23 saves in his first game in more than two months for the Arizona Coyotes, a 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers at Gila River Arena on Tuesday.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 37 saves for the Panthers (33-24-6), who won for the first time in three games and are two points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division.

"He's a superstar goalie," defenseman Riley Stillman said. "He's been huge for us, and it pumps us up, gives us adrenaline. We've let some games get away from us, so we wanted to play smart and hard and come away with two points."

 

[WATCH: All Panthers vs. Coyotes highlights]

 

With Arizona defenseman Oliver-Ekman-Larsson in the penalty box for tripping Evgenii Dadonov, Mike Hoffman scored his fourth goal in five games with a one-timer from the left face-off circle to give Florida a 2-1 lead at 8:50 of the third period.

"They had nothing going on there, and it was a 1-1 game, but sometimes it just takes a penalty," Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. "We overplayed the guy in the corner (Jonathan Huberdeau), and Hoffman got a free shot, and Darcy had no chance."

Video: FLA@ARI: Vatrano snaps shot past Kuemper

Kuemper had not played since Dec. 19 because of a lower-body injury.

"It was great to be back there just competing with the guys," said Kuemper, who is 15-9-2 with a 2.17 goals-against average and .929 save percentage. "It's been a long time watching, which is not the easiest, but it felt good to be back there. We just unfortunately did not get the win."

Tocchet said of Kuemper: "He was solid. When we needed him, he was there. But I didn't think they had much (offense), to be honest with you."

The Coyotes (31-27-8) were shut down after defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-3 on Saturday. They are tied with the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.

"We need to be desperate with our game, but we also need to be confident with our game and get the two points each night," Arizona forward Derek Stepan said. "We've got 16 games left, and they're precious points each night."

Brad Richardson scored shorthanded to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead at 14:16 of the first period. Vinnie Hinostroza beat two Panthers for the puck behind the net and passed to Richardson. Bobrovsky made the save on the initial shot from the left circle, but Richardson put in his own rebound from the hash marks.

Video: FLA@ARI: Richardson opens scoring with SHG

The Coyotes have scored four shorthanded goals after they had 16 in 2018-19, second most in the NHL.

"That hurt early, no doubt," Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad said. "We don't want that ever as a team. We've got to secure that and lock that down. But we really rebounded and did a good job of not losing our focus at any point, and that shows the resiliency of our team."

With Coyotes forward Taylor Hall at center ice after skating to the bench to get a new stick, Frank Vatrano tied the game 1-1 at 11:03 of the second when he scored off a pass from Hoffman.

"Giving up shorthanded goals, giving up those kind of goals, generally you don't win," Florida coach Joel Quenneville said. "But that was a good response, coming back and finding a way to get two points."

Forwards Erik Haula and Lucas Wallmark debuted for the Panthers after being acquired in a trade from the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday. Haula was plus-1 and had one hit in 14:30, and Wallmark had one shot on goal and two hits in 12:39.

"This was a huge win," Stillman said. "It was a tight game, and we ended up with the power play giving us the (winning) goal. It's just what we needed."

 

They said it

"It's good to feel confident going into what is the biggest game of the year, against [the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday]. It's huge. We want to be all systems go." -- Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad

"We had a lot of chances, and they didn't have much, but we didn't score. That's it. That's the game. They're a team that scores a lot, and I thought we limited them, but we didn't score. You've got to score in this league to win." -- Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet

 

Need to know

The Panthers went 3-2-0 on their five-game Western road trip. ... Florida is 4-7-1 in its past 12 games. ... Hoffman has six points (four goals, three assists) during a five-game point streak. ... Huberdeau has nine points (three goals, six assists) in the past seven games. ... Coyotes forward Conor Garland's nine-game home point streak ended (eight goals, six assists).

 

What's next

Panthers: Host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, FS-F, TSN4, NHL.TV)

Coyotes: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; FS-A PLUS, MSG-B, NHL.TV)

Video: Hoffman, Bobrovsky lead Panthers past Coyotes

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