The Colorado Avalanche came into the BB&T Center on Thursday night boasting one of the best lines and best offenses in the NHL.
Then they went out and proved their worth.
Carl Soderberg scored two goals and J.T. Compher had the go-ahead goal with 13:39 left in the third period as the Avalanche defeated the host Florida Panthers 5-2 on Thursday night.
Colton Sceviour and Aaron Ekblad scored for the Panthers, who were in the game until the third period.
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The Panthers are now 3-2-2 on this eight-game home stretch that ends Saturday night against the New York Rangers.
As for Colorado, it was its 11th road win of the season, which ties the Avalanche with the Toronto Maple Leafs for first <FZ,1,0,26>place in the NHL in that category.
After being tied 2-2 following two periods, Colorado scored three goals in the third. Colorado has 44 goals in the third period this season, which is the most in the NHL.
Mikko Rantanen, who entered the game leading the NHL with 46 points, and Gabriel Landeskog scored Colorado’s other goals. Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Landeskog — considered the top line in the NHL — combined for four points.
Goalie Philipp Grubauer earned the win, making 33 saves.
Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo, in just his second game back from his second lower-body injury of the season, took the loss, making 32 saves.
The Panthers, counting Ekblad’s score, have power-play goals in 17 of their past 18 games. The Panthers went 1 of 5 with a man advantage.
Colorado went 0-for-4. Colorado opened the scoring with 10:40 elapsed in the first period as defenseman Patrik Nemeth’s shot was deflected in by Rantanen.
Florida tied the score on Sceviour’s deflection goal with 17:53 expired in the first. Defenseman Bogdan Kiselevich got the primary assist.
Colorado went back on top 2-1 with 5:44 gone in the second on a shorthanded goal by Soderberg, whose shot from the right circle bounced in off Luongo’s mask.
The Panthers, still on the power play, tied the score just 35 seconds later. Jared McCann made an outstanding pass, finding Ekblad, who had a wide open left side of the net.
“[McCann] faked the goalie out,” Ekblad told Fox South Florida in between periods. “That was a great shot fake.”
Colorado took a 3-2 lead on a superb deflection by Compher. Landeskog got the assist on a shot that otherwise would not have been on goal.
Soderberg’s second goal, which hit Luongo in the chest, was controversial.
Luongo’s view of the puck was obstructed by the stick of Colorado’s Matt Nieto. However, Nieto was pushed into Luongo by Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar. The Panthers appealed the score on the grounds of goalie interference, but they were denied on review.
Landeskog scored an empty-net goal with 1:34 remaining to end Florida’s hopes.