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Panthers Wrap-Up: Coyotes 3, Panthers 1

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers

1 2 3 OT T
Panthers 0 0 1 0 1
Coyotes 1 1 1 0 3
FLA - PP - B. Pirri (7)
PHX - PP - M. Ribeiro (15), O. Ekman-Larsson (11), R. Vrbata (17)

SUNRISE —  ( - Forward Radim Vrbata stayed hot while helping the Phoenix Coyotes continue their push for the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Tuesday.

Vrbata had a goal and two assists when the Coyotes defeated the Florida Panthers 3-1 at BB&T Center. He has four goals in the past three games.

"They wait for the other team to make mistakes. Obviously they're fighting for a playoff spot right now so every game is important to them and they lay it all on the line. We saw that desperation tonight."

- Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo.
1. Pir(ri) Into The Future: Trailing 3-0 in the third, and on a power play, new Cats forward Brandon Pirri got the Cats on the board as his shot deflected in off two Coyotes to beat Mike Smith with 9:54 remaining. The 22-year old Young Gun has fit right in since coming over in a trade four games ago, seeing quality time before finally netting his first in a Panthers uniform and seventh of the season. He almost had an eighth later, in the final frame, but was robbed by Smith on the one-timer setup from Nick Bjugstad. 

2. Damage From The Defense: In today's Lowdown, Keith Yandle and Oliver Ekman Larson were highlighted as the Coyotes players to watch. The D-men both played key parts in pacing Phoenix to a 2-0 lead. In the first it was Yandle unleashing a bomb through traffic on a Phoenix power play with 2:17 remaining. Stationed in front of the net, Mike Ribeiro got a piece of the shot to deflect it past Roberto Luongo. Then, midway through the second, it was Ekman-Larsson teeing up a shot that found its way into the back of the net.

3. Kulikov Strong Again:  Kulikov Strong Again: #7 in red had another strong game and was an offensive threat every time he stepped on to the ice during his 24:40 of ice time, the second most on the team, particularly on a near end-to-end rush in the third period that led to a scoring chance. The pending restricted free agent is making his case for receiving more big minutes going forward, especially after setting up Pirri's third period tally.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@djjc911: Congrats on your first goal as a @FlaPanthers @pirri91 #PowerPlay #Scorer

@ashleybuttonow: Good game to attend had a blast! Better luck next time @FlaPanthers #hockey

@Puckbrat: @FlaPanthers @pirri91 woohoo what a goal!! Thank you! #sogladyouarehere

Memorable fan posts from the game.

Andrew Garton: Oh well, looking forward to the draft and a bright future for the Cats it's coming.

Rosa Ruiz: What would I say? Let's Go cats next time?

Babygirlsweet LS: let go cats win games

1. Netting his seventh of the season in the third period, it was Brandon Pirri's first in a Panthers uniform.

2. Called up on Tuesday as a replacement for the injured Jesse Winchester, forward Joey Crabb played in his second game in a Panthers uniform this season, finishing with 11:10 of ice time.

3. Helping set up Pirri's third period goal, Nick Bjugstad extended his assist and point streak to three games (0-3-3). It is the fourth time this season he's had a three-game point streak (career high).

33. Florida finished with 33 hits in the game to Phoenix's 20. They were led by Bjugstad's five.

55. The Panthers found success in the face-off circle, winning 55% of the draws, led by Scott Gomez 67% (8/12) and Vincent Trocheck (13/23).

Radim Vrbata
The Coyotes forward was instrumental in their three goals, setting up the first two before giving them a 3-0 advantage in the third.

1 Goal, 2 Assists, 3 Points, +2, 4 Shots, 18:51 TOI
It's a quick one game trip for the Cats as they head to Tampa to battle the Lightning Thursday night. The Bolts last played on Monday night, falling to the Coyotes 4-3 in overtime. Rookie Ondrej Palat tied the game with 48 seconds remaining to force overtime, but Tampa could only pick up one point and are two points behind Montreal for third place in the Atlantic Division. Their 75 points are still good enough to hold down one of the Eastern Conference wildcard spots. Newly minted captain Steven Stamkos returned to action and has played the last three games while Valtteri Filppula (43 points) and Palat (42 points) lead the way offensively. Lightning goalie Ben Bishop holds a 29-11-6 record with 2.10 GAA and .929 save percentage between the pipes.

Author: Glenn Odebralski |

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