Hornqvist, Bennett go back-to-back, Panthers top Coyotes 3-1
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Patric Hornqvist and Sam Bennett scored 10 seconds apart in the first period, and Sam Reinhard scored in his fourth straight game to give the Florida Panthers a 3-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Friday night.
The Panthers scored all three goals in the first period and Sergei Bobrovsky had 22 saves, giving up only a power-play goal. He is 9-2-1 in 12 career appearances against Arizona.
“He’s lights out,” Bennett said of Bobrovsky. “I could say that every night. He gives us confidence. He gives us energy. He’s playing unbelievable right now.”
Phil Kessel scored on a power play for Arizona, which has lost four in a row and six of seven. The Coyotes pulled Scott Wedgewood, who had 20 saves, with 3:15 remaining.
“I liked how we closed the game out,” Florida interim coach Andrew Brunette said. “Probably wasn’t as sharp as we’d like to be, but I really like the way we stayed composed five-on-six. The third period was our best period.”
Florida has 21 goals in its last five games and has won five of its last six. The Panthers have earned point in 22 of 26 games this season and lead the NHL with 40 points, one more than Minnesota. Their four losses are the fewest in the league.
“You look at our depth,” Bennett said. “Every night everyone is contributing. Sometimes lines are going to have off nights, but we have other lines that are going to step up and carry the load.”
Hornqvist scored the first goal of the game on a wrist shot from the right circle that hit the crossbar and bounced in at 9:05 of the first period, and Bennett scored 10 seconds later when he took a pass after the faceoff and beat Wedgewood with a wrister from the slot.
The Panthers improved to 4-3-4 on the road.
“A little bit of an onus coming into this trip was being a little better on the road,” Burnette said. “We’ve played OK. We’ve played well enough to get some points, but I think there’s another level for our road play that we need to find.”
Kessel made it 2-1, getting the Coyotes’ first goal on the power play in 18 chances (since Nov. 16). But Reinhart scored on a power play with 25 seconds left in the first period with a shot through a screen from the slot for a 3-1 lead.
“We played probably against the best team in the NHL tonight, and after the third goal they didn’t generate a lot,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. “We played really well defensively and we had our chances. Unfortunately it’s not enough, but there’s a positive in that game.”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the Coyotes’ future in Arizona is secure and said there is “no issue” with the team while speaking at the NHL Board of Governors meetings Friday.
The city of Glendale has told the Coyotes it will not renew their lease beyond this season. The club paid Glendale $1.3 million this week in back taxes and bills caused by what they called an oversight.
“(Coyotes owner) Alex (Meruelo) is committed,” Bettman said. “Alex has the resources, and the Coyotes aren’t going anywhere. Well, they’re going somewhere else other than Glendale, but they’re not leaving the greater Phoenix area.”
Meruelo is working to secure a new arena in Tempe.
Florida center Aleksander Barkov and left wing Anthony Duclair were late scratches. “They didn’t feel great today,” Florida interim head coach Andrew Brunette said. “We’ll see where they’re at tomorrow and go from there.” Barkov 10 goals and 18 points. Duclair has nine goals and 17 points. … The Coyotes had been 2 of 25 on the power play at home before Kessel’s first-period goal. It was the worst home conversion rate in the league. … Coyotes center Jay Beagle returned after missing six games with a lower body injury. … The NHL record for the shortest span between goals by the same team is two seconds, by Montreal in 2018.
Panthers: Play at Colorado on Sunday.
Coyotes: Host Philadelphia on Saturday.
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