Florida Panthers are benefiting from improved play in the third period

Brad Boyes of the Florida Panthers reacts after scoring the game-winning goal in a shootout against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on January 9, 2014 in Buffalo. Florida won 2-1 in a shootout.
Brad Boyes of the Florida Panthers reacts after scoring the game-winning goal in a shootout against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on January 9, 2014 in Buffalo. Florida won 2-1 in a shootout.
Rick Stewart / Getty Images

Saturday: Panthers at Devils

When, Where: 7 p.m.; Prudential Center, Newark, N.J.

TV/Radio: FSNF; WQAM-560.

The series: New Jersey leads 47-26-7.

Scouting report: The Devils snapped a three-game losing streak with a 1-0 victory over Dallas on Thursday. Florida lost both games here last season.


After giving up late goals in their previous two games, the Panthers have played pretty good third periods in their past two outings.

On Thursday, Florida's hard-charging play in the third led to a 2-1 shootout win over the host Buffalo Sabres.

Florida outshot Montreal 16-10 in the third period Tuesday when it couldn't find the net in an eventual 2-1 loss to the Canadiens.

"There is a response level where the guys are pushing,'' said coach Peter Horachek, whose team gave up goals in the third period to New York and Nashville before starting its three-game road trip in Montreal.

"In Montreal, we didn't play great for two periods, but we were close enough to be in it. We had the chances at 10-4 in the third. We just couldn't score at that point. The effort to get back in it was there.''

On Thursday, the Panthers went into the third trailing the Sabres 1-0 despite outplaying their hosts for much of the evening.

Florida continued its strong play in the third and tied the score midway through when Tom Gilbert's long shot was deflected in by Brad Boyes.

Boyes would later have the go-ahead goal disallowed after a whistle was blown when Dmitry Kulikov took a stick to the face. Florida ended up outshooting the Sabres 35-24 during the game – and 9-7 in the third.

"I thought we came at them, had our chances,'' Boyes said.

Thursday's win in Buffalo was noteworthy for a number of reasons. First, it was Florida's first road victory since Dec. 19.

Florida improved to 7-17-3 when its opponent scores first and is now 3-17-5 when trailing after two periods.

Boyes' third-period goal gave the Panthers a 40-39 goal advantage over their opponents in that period this season – the only period in which Florida is on the positive side of the ledger.

"It's important for us to believe we can come back, to want to come back,'' Horachek said. "It's a pretty good positive from our standpoint.''


Shawn Matthias was scratched Thursday and replaced by Drew Shore against the Sabres but could be back against former coach Pete DeBoer and the Devils on Saturday.

"I don't look at the [scratch] as being anything negative, just something you do,'' Horachek said. "Hopefully, it makes him a better player. It's not a negative. I didn't rip him. Sometimes players need to focus on what it takes to be a better player.''

• Kulikov returned to the game after leaving in the third. Despite being hit in the mouth with a stick and leaving a trail of blood on the ice, no penalty was called.

"He had some problems with his teeth but he's OK; he's a tough kid who plays through that stuff,'' Horachek said.

• Dylan Olsen rejoined the team in New Jersey but isn't expected to play Saturday. He's missed the past three games with an undisclosed injury.

"He's in town because we're having a team dinner,'' Horachek said. "He's been skating more and more. I don't think he's at the point where he can push for a whole game. We just want him to get better.''

• The Panthers held an optional skate Friday afternoon at Prudential Center with less than half the team taking part.

Read more Florida Panthers stories from the Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category