SUNRISE, Fla. (AP)Down by three goals Tuesday, down by three goals again Thursday, down by a goal on three separate occasions Saturday.
The Florida Panthers were undeterred – again.
Sam Reinhart and Anton Lundell scored in a shootout, and the Panthers continued their string of comebacks by rallying to beat the St. Louis Blues 4-3 on Saturday.
”I’m extremely lucky to have a group like this,” Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette said. ”They’re fun to watch night in and night out. Every guy every night is stepping up and that’s been fun to be a part of.”
Maxim Mamin scored two goals, including a game-tying one with 2:34 left in regulation, and Reinhart added a goal for Florida. Lucas Carlsson and Anton Lundell each had two assists and Sergei Bobrovsky made 22 saves for the Panthers – plus stopped Ryan O’Reilly to end the shootout.
Ville Husso made a career-best 48 saves for the Blues, who got goals from Brandon Saad, Logan Brown and Jake Walman. O’Reilly had two assists for St. Louis.
”Kind of disappointing,” Husso said. ”We had the lead at the end, it was like two minutes left and they tied the game. But, one point, they’re a good hockey team, too, and we got one point so we need to look at the positive side.”
The Blues played the final 1:57 of overtime on the penalty kill, and most of that with defenseman Robert Bortuzzo playing without a stick. All he had was arms and legs to get in passing lanes, and even with Florida playing 4-on-3 – and four sticks vs. two – the Blues found a way to go to a shootout.
”It’s unreal. He just, he finds a way to get it done,” Blues coach Craig Berube said of Bortuzzo’s stickless effort. ”That’s the bottom line. He puts his body on the line, which he did. He just he does whatever he can.”
Bobrovsky came up with the save to end the shootout, and Florida improved to 14-1-0 at home.
Husso was playing in back-to-back games for the first time this season since St. Louis goalie Jordan Binnington entered the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol after testing positive for the coronavirus.
”I think it’s a good opportunity for everybody to step in,” Blues defenseman Colton Parayko said. ”We have a deep team. … Good to see everybody stepping up there and obviously tough not to get the two points, but we’re just going to keep working and getting better.”
Florida pulled Bobrovsky with 2:36 left, down by one.
Bobrovsky was back with 2:34 left, with the game tied.
It was that easy and that quick: Lundell won a faceoff, tapping the puck back to Mamin, who ripped a one-timer past Husso to tie the game at 3-3.
And with that, the legend of the Comeback `Cats continued.
After getting down 4-1 to Washington on Tuesday and 3-0 to Buffalo on Thursday – then finding ways to win both games – the Panthers did it again, rallying from 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 deficits.
”I liked our determination,” Reinhart said. ”We were able to get rewarded and win.”
BEEN A MINUTE
St. Louis’ game at Florida during the 2019-20 season was canceled because of the pandemic, and the way the schedule was set up last season meant teams were only playing teams within their division. That meant Saturday’s game was the Blues’ first at Sunrise since Feb. 5, 2019. Of the 38 players who took part in that 2019 game, only 11 – seven Blues and four Panthers – were on the ice Saturday.
NOTES: Husso’s previous career best for saves was 34. … This is the only home-and-home series for Florida this season. It’s the second of five for St. Louis. … Florida had given up exactly four goals in each of its last four games, tying the longest such streak in the NHL this season. … Reinhart has goals in three consecutive games. It’s the first time he’s had a three-game streak as a Panther; he had three of at least three games with Buffalo. … The Panthers aren’t home again until Dec. 14. … St. Louis plays its next four games at home.
The teams play again in St. Louis on Tuesday.
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