NHL

East-leading Florida Panthers have 3-goal 3rd period to beat Central leader Dallas 4-3

East-leading Florida Panthers have 3-goal 3rd period to beat Central leader Dallas 4-3

DALLAS (AP) — Florida coach Paul Maurice just wanted to see his team play the kind of tough, physical hockey it has been playing all season. The three-goal comeback was really a bonus for the Eastern Conference-leading Panthers.

Aleksander Barkov had two power-play goals and an assist, scoring the winning goal with 5:22 left, as Florida had a three-goal third period to beat the Dallas Stars 4-3 on Tuesday night.

"We went through the first 30 minutes for sure, possibly two periods, we didn’t look the way we were supposed to look. It just wasn’t right, wasn’t hard enough,” Maurice said. “That’s all we needed in the third. It wasn’t about winning the game. …. To not have anything going on for two periods and then get to play hard the way we need to play, that’s a really important thing to carry with you.”

The winner came only seconds into a power play when Florida’s captain took a shot from the middle of the right circle, and the puck ricocheted off a Stars player in front of Matthew Tkachuk, who was at the side of the net ready to knock it in.

Tkachuk did have two assists for the Panthers, who won for the 18th time in 21 games. That included the tying goal with six minutes left when he sent a puck toward the net and Sam Bennett had his stick in the air to deflect it past All-Star goalie Jake Oettinger.

That came only 38 seconds before the second goal by Barkov, who scored on another power play only 3 1/2 minutes before his winner. Carter Verhaeghe and Brandon Montour also each had two assists for Florida.

Jason Robertson, Wyatt Johnston and Joe Pavelski each had a goal and an assist for the Central Division-leading Stars, who had their season-best five-game winning streak snapped.

“For us, I think this group, this might come at a good time as far as this is a great reminder of what’s ahead of us,” Pavelski said. “We’re going to be in this situation again against good teams. … Take this as a lesson. This won’t be a low point for us long. We’ll be looking to right it and be better next time.”

Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky hadn’t allowed more than two goals sine Jan. 19, but his personal 12-game stretch ended when Robertson and Johnston scored 23 seconds apart in the second period to put Dallas up 3-0. But Bobrovsky stopped 27 shots, many of those prime scoring chances for the Stars in the first period and a few minutes late when they had an extra skater on the ice.

“I liked big parts of our game tonight. I thought we did a lot of things well,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “We had opportunities to really extend the lead and put them away. I thought their goalie let them hang around and … We left the door open, a crack for them in the third period, took a couple of penalties, and that’s all they need.”

Oettinger finished with 26 saves.

Florida's first goal was Sam Reinhart's 46th, the second-most in the NHL. He popped the puck over Oettinger's left shoulder on a power play midway through the second period. Barkov's first power-play tally came on a 40-foot wrister with 8:51 left.

The Stars led 3:19 into the game after Robertson assisted Pavelski's goal on a clear breakaway. Robertson extended his points streak to seven games, matching his longest of the season, with his 23rd goal and 44th assist.

UP NEXT

Panthers: Play on Thursday night at Carolina, where they lost 1-0 on Feb. 22 for their only loss in a 13-game span.

Stars: Hosts New Jersey on Thursday night in the second of their five consecutive home games. Dallas beat the Devils 6-2 on the road Jan. 20.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL

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