Panthers stay unbeaten, beat Coyotes 5-3 to move to 6-0

Oct 25, 2021, 6:51 AM | Updated: 7:44 pm

Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (16) skates with the puck against the Arizona Coyotes dur...

Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (16) skates with the puck against the Arizona Coyotes during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Michael Reaves)

(AP Photo/Michael Reaves)

SUNRISE, Fla.- (AP) — Frank Vatrano and Joe Thornton each scored their first goals of the season and the Florida Panthers stretched their unbeaten streak to six games with a 5-3 victory over the winless Arizona Coyotes on Monday night.

Anthony Duclair, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad also scored goals for the Panthers.

Spencer Knight made 18 saves. Brandon Montour had two assists.

Liam O’Brien and Phil Kessel scored late goals for the Coyotes. Clayton Keller also scored a goal.

Carter Hutton made 10 saves before leaving the game after the first period with a lower-body injury. Karel Vejmelka started the second period and stopped 26 shots.

Florida’s 6-0-0 record extends the best start in franchise history and is the first 6-0-0 start in the NHL since Montreal in 2015-16.

The Arizona loss marks the second time in the franchise’s 42 seasons that they don’t have a win after six games (were 0-5-1 to start 2017-18 season)

“You never hope to go through it but we’re in the thick of it and there’s no easy way out,” Coyotes forward Christian Fischer said. “It’s going to take a lot of work. It’s early (in the season) but it (stinks). We’ve got to put it together soon.”

Leading 4-1 midway through the third period, the Panthers seemed to be cruising to an easy victory, but O’Brien scored at 11: 57 to make the score 4-2. Kessel scored 34 seconds later to close the Coyotes to 4-3.

“I think we did a good job at capitalizing on our chances,” Vatrano said. “I think their goalie made two big saves there where we could have put the game away and we gave them life. It’s the NHL and you can’t give any team life. We took the timeout, we knew we had the lead and just play hockey the way we know how and close it out.”

Duclair’s empty-net goal with 38.9 left made the score 5-3 and iced the game.

“We knew going in it was kind of a dangerous opponent, and I think that being respectful from start to finish is part of it, and sometimes you get ahead, you get a little careless, we get a couple of situations that we mis-played and both ended up in the net, now it’s a hockey game,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We nailed it down at the end but certainly don’t take anything for granted in this game.”

With the game tied at 1, Vatrano gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead when he found a loose puck in front and swept it past Vejmelka at 6:00 of the second.

Ekblad’s power-play goal came on a shot from the point that may have hit a Coyotes player before it went into the net and put the Panthers ahead 3-1.

Huberdeau’s goal at 6:54 of the third stretched the Panthers lead to 4-1.

At that point, it seemed the game was over but the two late goals made it a nail-biter until Duclair’s empty-netter.

“The guys came out with a lot of pride. They battled hard and we made more plays. I liked our attitude in the third,” coach Andre Tourigny said. “We had the right mindset. In the first two we gave up a lot of speed and momentum to Florida.”

The Coyotes took a 1-0 lead on their first shot of the game. Keller pushed the puck between Knight’s pads from the slot with 2:17 left in the first. It was the first time this season that the Panthers opponent scored the games’ first goal.

The lead didn’t last long. Thornton’s power-play goal tied the game at 1-all with 18.8 seconds left in the first. Thornton, who signed to a one-year contract this season, poked in the puck from in front. The goal was the 24-year veteran’s first as a member of the Panthers.

The Panthers outshot the Coyotes 11-1 in the first and 31-8 through two periods.

NOTES: Panthers C Sam Reinhart his recorded 300th NHL point with an assist on Thornton’s goal…This is only the third time in the franchise’s 28-year history that the Panthers have at least 10 standings points through six games, joining last season (11 points) and 1996-97 (10). The fewest Florida ever had after six games was two in 2012-13, Jonathan Huberdeau’s rookie season. … Coyotes D Conor Timmons sustained a lower-body injury and did not return for the third period. C Ryan Dzingel did not return after suffering an upper-body injury…There was no further information on the injured players post-game…This was the start of a season-long six-game road trip for Arizona. The Coyotes aren’t home again until facing Seattle on Nov. 6.


Coyotes: Visit Tampa Bay on Thursday.

Panthers: Host Boston on Wednesday.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Panthers stay unbeaten, beat Coyotes 5-3 to move to 6-0