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5 Takeaways: Blues Score Four in Third to Hand Panthers Loss

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

12/11/18: Postgame Interviews

Panthers talk to the media after the game vs STL

Postgame interviews with Bob Boughner, Roberto Luongo and Keith Yandle after tonight's game verse St. Louis Blues

  • 01:25 •

ST. LOUIS - It only took a few seconds for the tide to turn.

Trailing 1-0 after the first 40 minutes of action, the St. Louis Blues scored four goals in the third period - including a pair just 11 seconds apart to spark their comeback -- to defeat the Florida Panthers 4-3 at Enterprise Center on Tuesday night.

"It's that momentum thing," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. "Two shifts changed the game."

Less than two minutes into the final period, Ivan Barbashev made it 1-1 at 1:28 of the third, with David Perron following suit at 1:39 to make it 2-1. From there, Perron added one more at 11:12 to pad the Blues' lead before the Panthers scored two goals of their own to make it 3-3 at 13:14.

But with 3:55 remaining, Brayden Schenn beat Roberto Luongo on the rebound after appearing to get away with an un-called cross-check on defenseman Mike Matheson around the top of the crease to secure the 4-3 final and hand the Panthers (11-12-5) their third straight loss.

"We found a way to come back. It's 3-3 with under four or under five minutes to go, and they got one," Boughner said. "I thought it should have been a penalty on the play. I thought it was cross-check. The guy that cross-checks him ends up getting the puck, and it's in the back of our net. That's how it played out."

Here are five takeaways from Tuesday's loss in St. Louis…

1. DOUBLE TROUBLE

The Panthers found themselves in trouble early on Tuesday night.

Less than a minute after the puck had dropped, a high stick on Jaden Schwartz drew blood, sending the Blues to a four-minute power play as Mike Matheson was pegged with a double-minor penalty. Entering the game, St. Louis ranked eighth in the league with the extra attacker.

But as it has been in recent weeks, Florida was up to the challenge. Finding help up and down the bench, 11 different skaters registered at least 37 seconds of ice time on the penalty kill as the Panthers held the Blues to a single shot on goal over the four-minute man advantage.

"We did a real good job," Boughner said of the early kill. "There was a lot of desperation, a lot of sacrifice there. I think it allowed us to ease into the first period a little better there."

Mackenzie Weegar and Mark Pysyk led the team with 2:42 of ice time apiece on the elongated kill, while Colton Sceviour led all forwards with 1:54. Even a non-traditional killer like Jonathan Huberdeau, who had just 1:50 shorthanded minutes prior to the game, chipped in 51 seconds.

"Four minutes is long, sometimes the guys get tired a little bit," said Huberdeau, who has averaged just 10 seconds per game on the penalty kill in his NHL career. "I'm there if he needs me. The guys are doing such a good job. I'm just trying to get out there and pay the price."

After a 3-for-3 performance in St. Louis, the Panthers are now 22-for-25 on the penalty kill (88 percent) over their last nine games

2. TOP LINE STRIKES

Although he's only a part-time penalty killer, Huberdeau is a full-time point producer.

Granted a second lease on life after surviving that four-minute penalty kill, the Panthers went on the offensive. In a battle along the boards, Aleksander Barkov whacked the puck to Huberdeau, who then set up Evgenii Dadonov in front to give Florida a 1-0 lead at 15:29 of the first period.

Video: FLA@STL: Dadonov beats Allen off Huberdeau's feed

With his 14th goal of the season, Dadonov sits one behind Mike Hoffman for the team lead. Well ahead of last season's pace, the 29-year-old forward didn't hit that mark until his 46th contest during the 2017-18 campaign. Of his goals this season, eight have come at even strength.

With two assists against the Blues, Huberdeau not only notched his ninth multi-point game in his last 11 outings, but also the 200th assist of his NHL career. Holding down the fourth spot among the franchise's all-time assist leaders, he needs just 50 more to surpass Stephen Weiss for first.

3. WEEGAR GETS NO. 1

Weegar picked a good time to score his first goal of the season.

Just 34 seconds after Perron's second of the night made it 3-1, Weegar answered back for the Panthers, taking a pass from Jared McCann and firing a one-timer from the center of the right circle that found its way past Jake Allen to cut the deficit down to 3-2 at 11:46 of the third period.

Video: FLA@STL: Weegar beats Allen on the short side

In the midst of his second full season with the Panthers, Weegar continues to provide a steady presence on the team's bottom pairing. A strong possession player, he's managed a 51.47 CF% at 5-on-5 despite having the third-most defensive zone starts among the club's defensemen.

In St. Louis, Weegar was on the ice for 15 shot attempts for and just 10 against, giving him a 60 CF% -- the fourth-highest on the team. In addition to his four points this season, the 24-year-old blueliner also ranks third on the Panthers in hits (45) and second in blocked shots (37).

4. HOPE FROM HOFFMAN

Late in the third period, Hoffman looked like a hero for the Panthers.

With time running out in regulation, the 29-year-old forward cut towards the crease, lifting a feed from Huberdeau over Allen's shoulder to tie the game at 3-3 at 13:14 of the final frame. With the goal, Hoffman took sole possession of the team's goal scoring lead with his 15th of the season. 

Video: FLA@STL: Hoffman buries Huberdeau's feed

For Hoffman, scoring in crunch time is nothing new. In his first season with Florida, he leads the team in both third-period goals (6), overtime goals (2) and game-winning goals (3). He currently also sits tied with Dadonov for the second-most points on the team with 29 in 29 games thus far.

With a cannon of a shot and a green light to fire at will, Hoffman has already posted 107 shots.

5. GRECO COMING

Anthony Greco didn't play on Tuesday night, but his NHL debut is on the horizon.

Earning the first NHL call-up of his career earlier in the day, the 25-year-old forward is expected to suit on Thursday night for the Panthers in Minnesota. Having played in three games over the weekend, Boughner said he wanted give Greco a day to catch his breath and get acclimated.

"He played a ton on the weekend," Boughner said during his pre-game availability. "He's going to practice with us tomorrow and is probable for Thursday in Minnesota… I want him to get adjusted, have a good days rest and give him the proper opportunity."

In 24 games with AHL Springfield this season, Greco has produced at nearly a point-per-game clip, registering 23 points (12 goals, 11 assists), which is good enough for second on the team. A speedy scoring threat on the penalty kill, he also leads the team with two shorthanded goals.

Undrafted out of Ohio State University in 2016, he has tallied 102 points (57 goals, 45 assists) in 173 career AHL games -- all with the Thunderbirds -- to become team's all-time leader scorer.

"I think Grecs is getting rewarded for what he's done down there in Springfield," Boughner said. He's scored some goals, he's killing penalties, he's got a lot of speed. Hopefully he'll help us at some point… When you call down there and you ask who the best forward is, who's the most consistent guy and who's ready, Grecs' name is the first name that pops up."

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