After rolling up five victories and 11 points in their first nine games of the Paul Maurice era, the Florida Panthers head west for a four-game road trip beginning Tuesday night in Tempe, Ariz., against the Arizona Coyotes.
Florida hit the road following a 5-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, firing a franchise-record 58 shots on goal in the process. That came on the heels of a 51-shot effort in a 4-3 loss at Philadelphia on Thursday.
The Panthers jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead against the Senators on goals by Carter Verhaeghe and Aleksander Barkov while outshooting Ottawa an eye-popping 26-4. But Ottawa battled back to tie the game 2-2 early in the second period. Despite finishing with a 58-26 shot advantage, Florida didn’t score the game-winner until Brandon Montour one-timed Barkov’s pass from the top of the right circle with 3:32 remaining.
Matthew Tkachuk sealed the win with an empty-netter with 14 seconds left.
“It was huge for us,” Barkov said of the win. “We wanted to get the win before we go on a long road trip. I think we played really good. In the second period we had some trouble in our own zone and gave up a little too much for them. But at the same time, we battled back and won.”
Verhaeghe finished with two goals and an assist in the victory.
“We’re shooting the puck now, and I think that had been a problem of ours, not shooting it enough,” Verhaeghe said. “I think we’re focusing on that, getting the puck to the net and working to get them in.”
Florida’s road trip also includes San Jose on Thursday and a southern California back-to-back against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday and the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. The Panthers then play seven of their next eight games at home beginning with a Nov. 9 contest against Carolina to kick off a five-game homestand.
The Panthers open the trip against the Central Division cellar-dwelling Coyotes, who will be playing their third home game at Mullett Arena on the Arizona State University campus. Arizona dropped the first two by 3-2 scores to Winnipeg in overtime on Friday and the New York Rangers in regulation on Sunday.
The Coyotes are playing 20 of their first 24 games on the road while a new locker room annex is completed at the 5,000-seat Mullett Arena, which will be their temporary home for at least the next three seasons until a recently proposed $1.7 billion arena is built in Tempe.
Mika Zibanejad broke a 2-2 tie with a power-play goal with 7:04 left in the third period to give the Rangers the win on Sunday. Despite the loss, Arizona coach Andre Tourigny was upbeat with the way his rebuilding squad performed against a New York team that reached the Eastern Conference finals last season.
“I felt passion, I felt guys who really care, and I saw a bunch of guys who compete like mad dogs out there,” Tourigny said. “I’m really proud of the boys. They compete, they’re right there. They believe in themselves. They know we’re getting closer every day.”
After completing their four-game homestand on Thursday against Dallas, Arizona departs on a 14-game road trip. The Coyotes won’t play another home game until Dec. 9 against the Boston Bruins.
–Field Level Media