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Best Florida Panthers Comebacks of 2019-20 (So Far!)

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop /

Best Comebacks of 2019-20 So Far

Best Comebacks of 2019-20 So Far

A collection of the best comebacks so far from the 2019-20 season

  • 06:25 •

As we all wait for hockey to come back, why not re-live some epic comebacks?

Whether you refer to them as the "Cardiac Cats," the "Comeback Cats" or some other nickname I'm not in the loop on, we can all agree that the Florida Panthers certainly succeeded in keeping all of us on the edge of our seats throughout heart-stopping portions of their 2019-20 campaign.

Erasing a four-goal deficit to snatch a victory out of the jaws of defeat? It was a feat so nice that they did it twice… within a span of less than two weeks! Trailing with under a minute left on the clock? Pfft! These Panthers proved that was more than enough time to find the game-tying goal.

"It's all belief from every guy," defenseman Aaron Ekblad said when asked about the team's never-say-die attitude. "You're sitting on the bench, goals are going in, but nobody's freaking out. Everybody's calm, cool and collected. We're confident we can come back in any situation."

And with each of these wins, a new hero was also crowned.

From Jonathan Huberdeau's two goals in Colorado to the arrival of Mark "The Prius" Pysyk in Minnesota, the highlights from those games not only likely brought a smile to all of our faces, but also penned new chapters in both the organization's and individual player's history books.

The numbers also back up the claim that the Panthers were one of the most-dangerous teams in the league when backed into a corner, as their six wins when trailing after two periods were tied for the eighth-most in the league -- just two behind Washington and Dallas for first place.

So, without further ado, let's revisit five of Florida's best comebacks from this season.. thus far!

Winning the Fiddle Contest

This was Brett Connolly's coming out party with the Cats.

With the Panthers in a 4-1 hole near the midway point of the second period, Connolly, who took his talents to South Florida on a four-year deal this past summer, potted a pair of goals to spark the comeback in a thrilling 6-4 win over the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Oct. 14.

"There was no doubt that we were coming back," defenseman MacKenzie Weegar said.

Cutting the deficit down to two, Connolly's first strike came at 9:50 of the middle frame when he went top-shelf with a wrist shot shortly after Florida's power play had expired. Then, with eight seconds left in the period, he went bar-down to make it a 4-3 game heading into the third period.

Video: FLA@NJD: Connolly goes top shelf for second goal

"Connolly's goals in the second period were huge," defenseman Aaron Ekblad said.

Just thirty seconds after the puck dropped in the third period, Weegar scored on a long slap shot to tie the game at 4-4. Not long after that, Noel Acciari tipped in a shot from Weegar for what proved to be the eventual game-winning goal that put the Panthers on top 5-4 at 7:30.

Then, with 4:28 left in regulation, Evgenii Dadonov made it 6-4 with a power-play goal.

"There were a lot of positives in that third period," head coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we might have played our best period in the third."

Magic in the Mile High City

The Panthers showed a lot of fight - literally - in mounting this comeback.

Down 3-1 late in the third period in Colorado, the Panthers came back to tie the game and force overtime, where Jonathan Huberdeau scored his second goal of the night just 29 seconds into the extra frame to put a bow on an epic 4-3 win over the Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Oct. 30.

"We don't need to panic," Huberdeau said. "Even if we're down two goals, we're focused. We're that kind of team. We're good. We know we can come back every game."

Feeding off a heated altercation between Dryden Hunt and Avalanche rearguard Nikita Zadorov shortly after Colorado made it 3-1, Aleksander Barkov scored on the power play just 11 seconds after the two players had tussled to trim Florida's deficit down to 3-2 at 12:04 of the third period.

Then, with the goalie pulled later in the period, Huberdeau got the game to overtime when he beat Philipp Grubauer on a wrist shot through traffic to make it 3-3 with 1:30 left in regulation.

On the first shift of the extra frame, Huberdeau showed he still had a little magic left in his stick when he took a pass from Barkov, deftly maneuvered around a poke check from Grubauer and then sent the puck into the twine off his backhand to secure the win 29 seconds into overtime.

Video: FLA@COL: Huberdeau strikes quickly in overtime

"Me and Barky were kind of looking for a bounce," Huberdeau said of the game-winning goal. "We haven't been getting a lot of bounces lately. I saw the puck and saw Grubauer had his stick out, so I just went backhand and five-hole. I knew it was open."

Breaking Hearts in Beantown

If you're ever in need of a pick-me-up, this is the game to put on.

Capping off the biggest comeback in franchise history, Mike Hoffman scored the game-winning goal in the shootout as the Panthers clawed all the way back from being down four goals in the third period to come from behind and defeat the Boston Bruins 5-4 at TD Garden on Nov. 12.

"The first two periods were definitely not the way we wanted to play," Hoffman said. "Going into the third down 4-0, we really had nothing to lose. Everyone kind of stepped up… It was a big comeback win. We've had a few of them this season. It's good to see. Guys don't stop battling."

Facing down a four-goal deficit, Aaron Ekblad kickstarted the comeback when he lit the lamp just 50 seconds into the third period to make it 4-1. Feeding off that spark, Frank Vatrano and Hoffman then each scored on the power play at 5:26 and 9:43, respectively, to make it 4-3.

With 1:39 left on the clock, Keith Yandle provided the heroics, flying down from the blue line and sending a puck over Tuukka Rask's right shoulder to make it 4-4 and get the match to overtime.

Video: FLA@BOS: Yandle goes upstairs to tie the game in 3rd

Following a scoreless extra frame, Vincent Trocheck and Hoffman each put one past Rask in the shootout for the Panthers, while rookie goaltender Sam Montembeault stopped three of the four Bruins shooters he faced to leave the home crowd stunned and lock in an historic 5-4 win.

"Scoring early in the first shift of the third obviously gave us a little bit of a lift there, and we got some excitement off it," head coach Joel Quenneville said. "The power play came up with a couple big ones. Having Monty come in there, he played a great third period, a great response. He made some key saves around our net there. There were some dangerous times there, too."

Quack at it Again with Another Comeback

Joel Quenneville described this win as "more than improbable."

A mere nine days after their aforementioned historic comeback in Boston, Aaron Ekblad netted a pair of goals - including the game-winner - to help the Panthers overcome yet another four-goal deficit in a stirring 5-4 overtime win over the Anaheim Ducks at BB&T Center on Nov. 21.

"Always great to win," Quenneville said. "This wasn't textbook how we play. I think you get excited when you play the right way and you deserve wins. Tonight, we'll take it. But we've got to be better. The Boston [victory] was highly improbable, and this one was the same way."

Much like it was during their comeback in New Jersey back in October, Brett Connolly was the one who fired up Florida's comeback against the Ducks. After beating John Gibson to cut the deficit to 4-1 at 18:53 of the second period, the veteran winger found the back of the net a second time just 27 seconds later from a similar spot on the ice to make it 4-2 heading into the third period.

"Huge," Quenneville said of Connolly's timely goals. "The first one, all of a sudden it's 4-1 and you think you've got a sniff. Then all of a sudden you get the next one. We've had some amazing comebacks, which I think got everyone excited after two [periods]."

In the final frame, Ekblad made it a one-goal game when he beat Gibson with a blast from just below the blue line to make it 4-3 at 11:55. Just a few minutes later, recently-recalled forward Dominic Toninato took center stage, scoring from right on the doorstep to make it 4-4 at 15:37.

Once the game got to overtime, the Panthers wasted no time in wrapping things up.

After Aleksander Barkov won the opening faceoff, Ekblad skated down the right side of the ice and sent a shot over Gibson's glove for the game-winner just 22 seconds into the extra frame.

Video: ANA@FLA: Ekblad roofs shot to complete rally in OT

"We've had a few good comebacks over the years, but a team this good doing it in consecutive weeks, it's unheard of," Ekblad said. "We just catch a spark and we run with it."

With the win, Florida became just the second team in NHL history to win two games when trailing by four goals in the same season.

Stunner in the North Star State

The Panthers made sure their first-ever regulation win in Minnesota was unforgettable.

After tying the game with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, Noel Acciari tipped in the game-winning goal with just 5.6 seconds left on the clock to give the Panthers to a 5-4 win over the Wild at Xcel Energy Center on Jan. 20.

Prior to the victory, the Cats owned an all-time record of 1-9-1-1 in the North Star State.

"It's huge," said defenseman Keith Yandle, who registered a game-high four points (one goal, three assists). "We want to keep this thing rolling, obviously. We weren't satisfied going into overtime. We weren't playing on our heels because that's when you can get in trouble."

Leading 3-2 early in the third period, the Panthers saw their advantage quickly evaporate when Zach Parise and Luke Kunin found the back of the net at 4:19 and 7:06, respectively, to turn the tables and put Minnesota on top 4-3 in front of one of the loudest home crowds in the league.

But with 4:08 left in the period, Vincent Trocheck breathed new life into Florida's comeback when he drove to the net and slipped a shot through Alex Stalock's five-hole to make it 4-4.

Fighting to claim two points in regulation rather than risk leaving one on the board by letting the game get to overtime, Mark Pysyk fired a long shot on net that was tipped by Aaron Ekblad and then Acciari before sailing into the net to send the Panthers ahead 5-4 with just 5.6 seconds left.

Video: FLA@MIN: Acciari nets game-winner in final seconds

"It showed our character," Acciari said. "Being able to come back from behind late and being able to win it in the last couple seconds was huge for us."

After the game, Yandle also bestowed upon Pysyk his now-iconic nickname:

"Prius." "He's the hybrid," he said.

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