Video: PIT@FLA: Matheson tips home overtime winner
"That's his game," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. "With his speed, you could see he snuck in there on a breakaway before that. Great play by Huby, who's always a clutch player for us in overtime. Mike does have that skating ability… He did a fantastic job and a great finish. I thought we had a bunch of great chances in overtime. It was nice to see it go in, for sure."
Florida (22-22-8) took an early 1-0 lead against Pittsburgh when Evgenii Dadonov cashed in on a fortuitous bounce off the boards on the power play at 5:22 of the first period. In the second, former Panther Jared McCann scored shorthanded on a 2-on-1 break to make it 1-1 at 13:51.
Less than five minutes later, however, Colton Sceviour put the Panthers back on top 2-1 at 17:32 when he bested DeSmith on the doorstep after a slick pass from Aleksander Barkov.
"He found the open spot and I just had an easy job to put the puck on his blade," Barkov said.
At 8:17 of the third, Marcus Pettersson threaded a long slap shot from the point through traffic to make it 2-2. But in the extra frame, the Penguins could only muster a single shot on net before Matheson's fifth goal of the season sent the Panthers to their fifth win in the last seven games.
"To be able to get the win in overtime is a big confidence builder for us," Matheson said.
Here are five takeaways from Thursday's win in Sunrise…
1. CATS OFF THE CAROM
For the sixth straight game, the Panthers struck first.
With time winding down on the power play, Mike Matheson fired a booming slap shot from just below the blue line, sending the puck caroming off the end boards and towards Dadonov on the edge of the crease. Catching DeSmith out of position, the Russian winger quickly backhanded the puck into the exposed netting to put Florida up 1-0 at 5:22 of the first period.
The Panthers have now registered at least one goal with the extra attacker in 32 of their last 43 games.
Video: PIT@FLA: Dadonov sweeps carom past DeSmith for PPG
"He's snake bitten and he's getting upset and frustrated by it," Boughner said of Dadonov. "I've had lots of talks with him saying, 'Hey, as long as you get the chances.' He's working hard. He finally got paid off tonight, which is nice to see. Our power play's been doing a lot of that. A lot of our chances are coming from point shots and seconds and thirds around the net."
His 19th goal of the season, Dadonov is now one score shy of reaching the 20-goal mark for the second consecutive campaign. Since returning from the KHL to re-join the Panthers in 2017-18, the 29-year-old has tallied a team-best 47 goals, with 13 of them coming on the man advantage. In addition to ranking third on the team in goals, Dadonov also sits fourth in points (42).
2. BROWNIE POINTS
With the Panthers in a precarious position to start the second, Boughner turned to Josh Brown.
Just seven games into his NHL career, the rookie defenseman got the call when the Penguins were sent to a 5-on-3 power play after a delay of game penalty just 17 seconds into the second period. Standing 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, he was charged with keeping the crease clean.
And for the entire minute of 5-on-3, as well as part of the 5-on-4, he did just that.
"He's a fantastic penalty killer," Boughner said of Brown. "I've known that since his junior days. [Panthers assistant coach] Paul McFarland used to be one of his coaches back in the Oshawa days. He's a big, lanky guy. He's not afraid to get in front of pucks and block shots and do the dirty things. That's what makes him a good penalty killer."
Finishing a perfect 3-for-3 against Pittsburgh, Florida's penalty kill improved to 33-for-35 over the last 16 games, with its 94.3 percent success rate ranking second in the NHL in that span.
3. COLTON THE SPOT
The Panthers didn't need power to score on this one.
Just a few moments after the man advantage expired, Barkov collected an errant puck in the offensive zone before sending a pass towards the net to Sceviour, who let loose a one-timer from the doorstep to put Florida back on top 2-1 at 17:32 of the second period.
Video: PIT@FLA: Barkov earns 300th point on Sceviour's goal
His fourth goal of the season, Sceviour has now accumulated 13 points in 48 games this season while playing a versatile, fourth-line role for the Panthers. In addition to his offensive numbers, the 29-year-old has also posted 68 hits and 42 blocks while skating just over 12 minutes a night.
"You've got to find ways to win games," Sceviour said. "Those meetings like the one we had yesterday aren't fun, but you need them sometimes for a kick in the pants. I'm happy with the way we responded. Now we've just got to keep doing that. We shouldn't need those meetings to get going for games down the stretch here."
With an assist, Barkov also registered the 300th point of his NHL career on the play.
"Those milestones are nice, but it's even better when we win," Barkov said.
4. THE NEW GUYS
Acquired along with three draft picks from Pittsburgh in exchange for Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann on Friday, newcomers Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan both found their way onto the scoresheet against their former team on Thursday night.
With the secondary assist on Dadonov's first-period goal - a nice feed to tee up Matheson - Brassard picked up his second point in his third game as a member of the Panthers. Sheahan, meanwhile, tallied his first point since the trade with the secondary assist on Sceviour's goal.
"It was good to see," Boughner said of the duo's performance. "Obviously they wanted this win a little extra than most. They both played well again for us. On the other side, I thought Canner and Bjugy had some good shifts as well. It was a good game for all those four guys to match up, get it over with and move on."
5. LUONGO LOCKS IT DOWN
Roberto Luongo was solid once again for the Panthers on Thursday night, stopping 29 of 31 shots - including 25 of 26 at even strength - to pick up his third win in his last four starts.
"Our goalies have been great here and we just haven't given them a lot of support every night," Sceviour said. "He battled for us, kept us in it and we were rewarded."
According to NaturalStatTrick.com, Luongo stopped all six high-danger shots he faced, with more than a few highlight-reel saves sprinkled in throughout the night. Of his 29 stops, one of the biggest came in the second, when he robbed Phil Kessel to keep Pittsburgh off the board.
Video: PIT@FLA: Luongo flashes the leather to rob Kessel
Luongo has now finished with a save percentage of .930 or better in three of his last four starts.