January 20, 2018 / 4:07 AM / 4 months ago

Ekblad lifts Panthers over Golden Knights in OT, 4-3

Defenseman Aaron Ekblad scored his eighth goal of the season 40 seconds into overtime to give the Florida Panthers a 4-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday night at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.

Vegas goaltender Malcolm Subban, who finished with 22 saves, stopped a backhand shot by Aleksander Barkov with his glove but the puck then fluttered near the crossbar, where Golden Knights center William Karlsson swatted it right to Ekblad in the slot. The fourth-year veteran fired it past Subban for the game-winner.

Barkov had a goal and two assists and Jamie McGinn and Evgenii Dadonov also scored goals for Florida. James Reimer, starting his 17th consecutive game and playing in his 19th consecutive game in goal for the Panthers, finished with 33 saves.

Karlsson, David Perron and James Neal scored for Western Conference-leading Vegas, which drew within one point of Tampa Bay for best record in the NHL.

Florida, coming off its bye week and playing its first game seven days, jumped out to a 2-1 first period lead on goals by McGinn and Barkov, just the fifth time this season that Vegas surrendered two goals in the opening 20 minutes.

McGinn’s sixth goal of the season gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead at the 3:15 mark, capitalizing on a mistake by Subban, who flicked a centering pass by Nick Bjugstad straight to McGinn in the slot where he backhanded it through the Vegas goaltender’s pads.

Perron tied it with a one-timer from the left circle off a pass from Erik Huala, but Barkov put Florida back ahead just 93 seconds later with his NHL-leading fifth shorthanded goal of the season, stuffing in a rebound of a Vincent Trocheck shot from the left side of the net. It was the ninth shorthanded goal of the season for the Panthers, tops in the NHL.

Karlsson tied it, 2-2, with his 25th goal of the season at the 6:54 mark in the second period, slapping in a crossing pass by defenseman Shea Theodore from the left corner into a wide-open right side of the net.

Dadonov gave Florida its third lead of the game early in the third period when he slapped in a rebound of a Barkov shot that caromed off Subban’s glove.

Neal tied it at 17:51 with his 20th goal of the season, sneaking the puck around Trocheck inside the blue line and then firing a wrist shot over Reimer’s right shoulder.

—Field Level Media

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