SUNRISE, Fla. – The Florida Panthers were excited to break out of their slump with a victory against an elite team.
Marcel Goc scored the winner midway throught he second period and the Panthers beat the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 on Monday night.
After a scrum in front of the Vancouver net, Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo ended up on his back during the flurry of shots and Goc was able to poke in the puck with 9:08 left in the period.
“It wasn’t a pretty one. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it worked,” Goc said. “Right now it’s a good test for us. We’re playing the top teams in the standings. We want to do well and stay with the pack up top.”
Goc also had an assist as the Panthers won for just the third time in nine games. Dmitry Kulikov scored the Panthers’ first goal and Scott Clemmensen finished with 25 saves.
Kris Versteeg got an assist Goc’s score to break a season-high four-game pointless streak.
The victory over Northwest Division-leading Vancouver gives the refurbished Panthers, in first place in the Southeast Division, the feeling that they are one of the best teams in the NHL.
“It’s the mentality of this team,” Clemmensen said. “It’s the new guys coming in, everything that has started from day one, that changeover from years past. We wanted to compete now. We expect to compete. We expect to win.”
Dale Weise scored for Vancouver and Roberto Luongo stopped 20 shots. The Canucks lost for just the fourth time in 12 games.
Vancouver was outshot 14-2 in the second period.
“We got two shots in the second and that’s not good enough,” Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. “I think we came out really strong, but if you’re off three or four per cent in a league like this, against a team that’s surprising a lot of guys this year, you need to play well.”
Vancouver struggled to get back in the game in the third period but the Panthers and Clemmensen were able to shut them out.
“That second period enabled their team to believe they had a chance to win, and when a team starts believing they’re in a game and they have a chance to win, sometimes good things happen,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. “In the third period their goaltender made the saves he needed to make and we couldn’t score.”
Weise gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead at 3:11 of the first period. Manny Malhotra brought the puck down along the boards, then passed from the left circle to Weise, who put the puck into an open net on Clemmensen’s glove side.
“A pretty good play by Manny. It’s pretty easy to score those,” Weise said. “He made a good play, froze them. Obviously, the goalie is anticipating a pass. He just made a great play.”
The Panthers tied it at 5:00 of the second on Kulikov’s goal. Goc took a shot from the right circle that was turned aside by Luongo. The puck bounced out to the left circle and Kulikov took a slap shot that beat Luongo on the short side.
NOTES: Panthers rookie G Jacob Markstrom is getting a second opinion on the knee that he injured last Friday in a 5-2 loss to the Devils. The Panthers recalled Brian Foster from AHL San Antonio to back up Clemmensen on Monday night. … Canucks D Sami Salo did not play due to concussion symptoms. Salo suffered a low hit from Boston forward Brad Marchand in last Saturday’s game. Marchand has been suspended for five games for clipping. … The Canucks recalled RW Mike Duco from Chicago of the AHL on Sunday. Duco, who played two games for the Panthers last season, made his Canucks debut on Monday.