SUNRISE, Fla. - Although they extended their point streak to four games, the Florida Panthers were once again left thinking about the extra point they feel that they left on the table following a 5-4 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night at BB&T Center.
After racing out to a 3-1 lead in the first period, the Panthers were outscored by the Avalanche 3-1 in the second to even things up at 4-4 heading into the final frame. After a scoreless third, the game went to overtime, where Nathan MacKinnon scored at 3:03 to win it for Colorado.
"It was a high-chance game," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. "Both teams had their time when they had possession of [the puck]. I thought in the second period we were very sloppy to begin. We weren't controlling the game like we did in the first period. I thought we did everything that we wanted to do at the start of the game."
Prior to MacKinnon's game-winner, the Panthers had done a good job containing Colorado's top line. In regulation, most of the damage came from the club's second and fourth lines, as Joonas Donskoi and Matt Nieto each lit the lamp once, while Andre Burakovsky potted a pair of goals.
For the Panthers, Jonathan Huberdeau unleashed a game-high eight shots on goal and found the back of the net twice, while Brett Connolly and Frank Vatrano also chipped in one goal apiece.
Late in the third period, Huberdeau came extremely close to completing his hat trick and winning the game, but was robbed by Avalanche goaltender Philip Grubauer, who dove to make the stop.
"He made some good saves," Huberdeau said. "I had a lot of chances. I could've scored at the end, but he made some great saves. I think we had a letdown in the second [period] again."
Grubauer finished the matchup with 40 saves on 44 shots, while Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made 36 saves of his own, including 17 during a stalwart first-period performance.
"The momentum changes in games, it goes up and down," Bobrovsky said. "That's part of the game. We just have to find a way to keep the 60-minute effort."
The Panthers (2-2-3) will now head to Nashville for a matchup with the Predators on Saturday.
"You've got to defend from start to finish," Quenneville said of tomorrow night's matchup. "A loud building and a fun building to play in, but we've got to play the right way."
Here are five takeaways from Friday's overtime loss in Sunrise…
For the second straight game, Huberdeau got the party started.
Just 3:32 into the first period, the 26-year-old winger received a cross-ice pace from MacKenzie Weegar in the neutral zone before flying across the blue line before ripping a wrist shot from the left circle that caught a piece of Grubauer's glove on its way into the net to put Florida up 1-0.
In Monday's win in New Jersey, Huberdeau broke the ice just 16 seconds into the game.
Video: COL@FLA: Huberdeau wrists home opening goal
Not done there, Huberdeau found the back of the net a second time later in the period, finishing off a very nice give-and-go play with Aleksander Barkov to extend Florida's lead to 3-1 at 14:57.
Video: COL@FLA: Huberdeau, Barkov strike on give-and-go
With two points tonight, Huberdeau is now tied for the team-scoring lead with eight points.
2. THE VATRANO SHOW
Vatrano showed off his speed on this goal.
With the Panthers on the penalty kill, Anton Stralman started the breakout with a pass to Denis Malgin. Heading up the ice with a head full of steam, Malgin then sent the puck up to Vatrano, who blew past a defender before scoring shorthanded to make it 2-0 at 8:26 of the first period.
Video: COL@FLA: Vatrano races in for shorthanded goal
Prior to tonight's game, Vatrano had only played 1:46 on the penalty kill this season.
After setting career-highs in goals (24) and points (39) in 2018-19, Vatrano has now notched a goal and an assist in seven games this season. In addition to his work on offense, the 25-year-old has also contributed seven hits and eight blocked shots, including a pair of blocks tonight.
3. THRILL OF THE KILL
The Panthers continue to benefit from an aggressive penalty kill.
With Vatrano's goal, they've now already notched two shorthanded goals through seven games this season. How impressive that? Well, that number not only places them in a tie for second in the league, but is also just one fewer than the three they registered over 82 games last season.
Entering tonight's matchup with the sixth-ranked penalty kill in the league at 86.7 percent, that number will a bit go up after a perfect 3-for-3 performance - including a double-minor -- against the Avalanche, who entered the game with the league's 10th-ranked power play at 24 percent.
Over the last four games, Florida's penalty kill has shut down all 11 power plays its faced.
"I think those guys have done a great job all year as far as awareness of what [opposing teams] are up to and how to disrupt their entries, whether they're seam passes, shots from the flanks or the tops," Quenneville said. "It's been pretty good so far. That's always a work in progress."
4. CONNOLLY CATCHING FIRE
Connolly is starting to catch fire in the goal-scoring department.
After picking up a pair of goals to spark Florida's comeback during Monday's win in New Jersey, the 27-year-old forward touched twine again tonight, beating Grubauer with a heat-seeking snapshot from the center of the left circle to put the Panthers up 4-3 at 14:05 of the second period.
Kick starting the play with an interception, Stralman earned his second assist of the night.
Video: COL@FLA: Connolly restores lead for Panthers
Joining the Panthers on a four-year contract this summer, Connolly has hit the ground running with his new club. Making a dent on the scoresheet in four of seven games to start the season - including three goals in his last two -- he ranks tied for fourth on the team in points with six.
In 2018-19, Connolly set new career-highs in goals (22), assists (24) and points (46).
5. PYSYK ON THE WING
Mark Pysyk got see what life's like on the wing tonight.
A defenseman throughout his career, the 27-year-old spent tonight's matchup on Florida's third line as the team opted to go with seven blueliners against Colorado. Taking the ice for 10 shifts, he played responsible game, registering three shots and two takeaways in the 7:18 he played.
Given the unusual position he was put in, Quenneville liked how Pysyk responded to the move.
"I thought he did a really good job for being a first-time starter," Quenneville said. "I thought his thought process up there was really good."