EditorsNote: Fixes to MacKenzie in notes
Panthers hand Blues first loss of season
SUNRISE, Fla. -- In three games, including a 5-2 victory over the previously unbeaten St. Louis Blues on Thursday, the Florida Panthers have produced 13 goals and put 122 shots on net.
Indeed, the Panthers, under first-year coach Bob Boughner, appear to be plenty dangerous offensively, and they have done this against two first-place teams, splitting two games with the Tampa Bay Lightning before taking out the Blues.
Boughner has stressed balanced scoring, and Florida had five different goal-scorers on Thursday. However, none of them possibly could be happier than rookie defenseman Ian McCoshen, who scored his first NHL goal.
“I‘m pretty much in disbelief,” said McCoshen, a 22-year-old native of Anaheim, Calif., who played at Boston College. “I just tried to throw the puck on the net. It’s surreal scoring your first NHL goal.”
McCoshen beat Blues goalie Jake Allen, who made 33 saves in a losing effort.
Boughner, a former NHL defenseman who was an assistant for the San Jose Sharks the past two years, said McCoshen is off to a solid start overall.
“I‘m happy for the kid,” Boughner said. “He’s playing well -- and not just the goal. He’s playing really well defensively. He’s doing a lot of nice things, and it’s nice to see him get rewarded.”
McCoshen, though, wants to make sure he stays on task.
“I‘m trying not to get complacent with this opportunity,” he said. “I want to stay and make an impact here. I want to win.”
St. Louis, which scored first on Paul Stastny’s wrap-around goal at 1:14 of in the second period, was the third straight Florida opponent to score the game’s first goal.
However, the Panthers tied the score 12 seconds later on McCoshen’s goal from the top of the left circle. Connor Brickley and Nick Bjugstad earned assists, starting a string of five consecutive Florida tallies.
”I‘m not known for my offense,“ said McCoshen, who was wearing the All-Blacks New Zealand rugby shirt that apparently will be given to the Panthers’ player of the game after each victory this season. ”But it’s always nice to contribute when I can.
“We wanted the momentum on our side, and the timing was picture perfect.”
Florida (2-1-0) kept the momentum, thanks in part to goalie Roberto Luongo, who made 37 saves in his first win and his first home start of the season.
The Blues (4-1-0) had opened with four wins in their first four games for just the second time in franchise history but were playing their third road game in four nights.
“We did a nice job of beating ourselves,” Blues coach Mike Yeo said sarcastically. “We gave up five goals -- you’re not going to win like that. We needed to play a strong, smart game, and we didn’t do that.”
The Panthers, who hadn’t played since Saturday, indeed seemed to be the more rested team. In addition to McCoshen, Vincent Trocheck, Jared McCann, Aaron Ekblad and Bjugstad also tallied for Florida.
Ekblad, Bjugstad and McCann also added assists.
It was Trocheck who had the go-ahead goal, scoring on a breakaway, short-handed goal. That gave Florida a 2-1 lead, and it happened just 79 seconds after McCoshen’s goal.
“We never should have let them score a short-handed goal,” Stastny said. “We had a chance to go ahead 2-0 (on the power play).”
Florida capped a wild third period with McCann’s redirection goal, which came off a pass from Radim Vrbata and put the home team up 3-1.
The Panthers kept their momentum in the third period as Ekblad scored on a one-timer off a pass from Jonathan Huberdeau, and then Bjugstad scored on a breakaway goal.
St. Louis’ Vince Dunn scored his first NHL goal with 1:09 left, but it wasn’t enough to lift the Blues.
“They scored on our power play,” Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said, “and we don’t score on our five-on-three. It’s not a good feeling here.”
NOTES: For the Blues, D Jay Bouwmeester (left ankle) LW Alexander Steen (left hand), C Patrik Berglund (shoulder surgery), LW Robby Fabbri (knee surgery) and LW Zach Sanford (shoulder surgery) are all out. Bouwmeester could return in one week; Steen could return by the end of the month; Berglund could return in December; and Sanford needs months of rehab. Fabbri is out for the year. ... Florida signed D Mike Matheson to an eight-year, $39 million extension. ... Florida had the same healthy scratches for the third game in a row: C Denis Malgin, D MacKenzie Weegar and C Owen Tippett. ... The Blues scratched C Wade Megan, D Nate Prosser and C Tage Thompson.