SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers haven't been pouncing on the opposition of late, but in a home game at the BB&T Center on Tuesday night, they clawed past the red-hot Anaheim Ducks
3-2 to end a nine-game losing streak.
The Panthers (4-11-4) trouble of late included stumbling in their last five home games before turning back the Ducks.
Florida's win was the first for the team in three games played under interim coach Peter Horachek, who took over the helm Friday morning after Kevin Dineen was fired from the job. Horachek's unexpected first stint as an NHL head coach began with two disappointing road games before the Panthers rebounded from a two-goal deficit on Tuesday.
"That's a heck of a hockey team to come back from a team that moves the puck the way that they do and the possession and skill they have," Horachek said. "I was very proud of the way the guys reacted and responded."
The Ducks (15-4-1) came into the game against Florida on a five-game winning streak, having won eight of their last nine games, and with an NHL-leading 31 points.
Initially, it looked like the Ducks would keep the Panthers losing streak alive with their ownership of the first period.
It took Ducks center Andrew Cogliano only 40 seconds to put Anaheim ahead 1-0 with his sixth goal of the season. This was the Cogliano's 478th consecutive game, having never missed a game since his NHL debut with Edmonton on Oct. 4, 2007.
Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm took advantage of Panthers goaltender Tim Thomas guarding the right-side of the net to score his second goal of the season. Lindholm had a clean path on Thomas' glove side to put the Ducks ahead 2-0 with 5:34 remaining in the first period.
Despite the 2-0 lead, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau was not happy with the effort the team put forth from the outset of the game.
"I came in after the first period and told them I didn't like the way we were playing at all and if we don't get back to the way we can play, we're going to be in trouble," Boudreau said. "I hate being a prophet, believe me.
"Taking nothing away from Florida, because they played really hard, but we started playing like them, and we're not used to playing like them, they're used to playing like them."
The Panthers, however, finally became aggressive, tying the score with two goals within a minute of each other late in the second period.
"We have to learn how to be a 60-minute hockey team," Horachek said. "Tonight we played 40-minutes and we beat a heck of a hockey team. Right now, we're going to learn how to work, learn how to be accountable and be the type of team we want to be.
At 13:28, center Shawn Matthias
' backhand shot found the back of the net for the Panthers first goal of the game.
Right winger Scottie Upshall came through with his third goal of the season at 14:38 to tie the game at 2, picking up the puck after it deflected first off of the stick of Duck's center Mathieu Perreault and then off the shoulder of Lindholm.
The Panthers guaranteed the end of their nine-game skid when right winger Brad Boyes scored his sixth goal of the season off an assist from Upshall just 4:29 into the third period.
Not surprisingly, the Panthers locker room was a happy place for a change Tuesday. But the players all understood one game does not make for a winning season.
"It's exciting. It's the coach's first win and the first win with the new system," Shawn Matthias said. "Everyone is excited about it, but we have to start fresh tomorrow.
"We put ourselves in a tough situation with those nine in a row. But now we to switch things and put wins together."
The victory gives Thomas his third win of the season. He saved 32 of 34 shots in the game.
The loss ended Ducks' rookie goalie Frederik Andersen's perfect 6-0 start to his NHL career. Andersen is the NHL's only active goalie to win his first six career games.
"The way we lost today was far from the way we want to play," Andersen said. "It's not an excuse. We come here to Florida and they haven't had much success, but we took it for granted we were going to beat them and it caught up with us in the second period.
NOTES: The Florida Panthers and the Anaheim Ducks are both celebrating their 20th anniversary in the NHL having been granted franchises Dec. 10, 1992. The Panthers and Ducks faced each other 24 times since starting with their first meeting on Dec. 7, 1993, with the Panthers taking a 3-2 win in Anaheim. ... Ducks captain C Ryan Getzlaf, the team's scoring leader (10 goals and 22 points), is missing his second straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Ducks C Saku Koivu is suffering from a concussion and did not travel to Florida with the team on Monday. It is not known when Koivu will return to the team. ... Panthers D Mike Mottau was recalled to the team Monday after playing 13 games with AHL San Antonio this season. Tuesday night's game was Mottau's 314th career NHL game. ... Panthers D Brian Campbell
is the Panthers ironman and has never missed a game since joining the franchise in 2011. This was his 159th NHL game combining his career with the Blackhawks and Panthers.
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