SUNRISE, FLORIDA – When the Florida Panthers fell behind by two goals in the first period to the top team in the NHL, it appeared they were on their way to yet another loss.
Instead, they scored three unanswered goals and Tim Thomas stopped 24 shots in the final two periods to help Florida snap a nine-game losing streak Tuesday night with a 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks.
Brad Boyes scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third and Thomas made 32 saves overall. Scottie Upshall and Shawn Matthias also scored for the Panthers, who earned their first win under new coach Peter Horachek and ended Anaheim’s five-game winning streak.
Upshall also had an assist to help Florida rally.
The Panthers won for the first time since beating Minnesota 2-1 on Oct. 19. It was their first victory in three games under Horachek, who took over when Kevin Dineen was fired last Friday.
“I’m real, real proud of the way they responded,” Horachek said. “You don’t just come back from 2-0 against a team like that without a lot of effort and a lot of character.”
Thomas was especially strong late, stopping 13 shots in the final period.
“I didn’t know how confident to feel that we could come back against a really good team,” he said. “But in the second period, it started to come together for all of us, myself included. It was a real great effort after that.”
Hampus Lindholm and Andrew Cogliano scored for the Ducks (15-4-1), who lead the NHL with 31 points. Frederik Andersen made 22 saves but lost for the first time in seven career starts.
Florida took a 3-2 lead in the third on Boyes’ goal. Andersen blocked a shot by Upshall, but the puck bounced off his leg pad and Boyes backhanded in the rebound at 4:29.
“It was a resilient effort,” Upshall said. “We didn’t have a great start. That’s been an issue. But when you’ve got a guy like Timmy in net, you’re never out of a game.”
Trailing 2-0, the Panthers (4-11-4) scored two goals in 70 seconds during the second period to tie it.
Matthias backhanded the puck in from low in the right circle at 13:28 to make it 2-1. Upshall’s shot from the point went off the stick of Anaheim’s Mathieu Perreault and the shoulder pads of Lindholm before bouncing over Andersen at 14:38 to tie it.
“He shot it and it went off a body or shoulder or something and over my head,” Andersen said. “A tough one.”
The Ducks may well have overlooked the struggling Panthers, who earned their first home win after five straight losses.
“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,” Andersen said. “Pretty simple.”
Sabres 3, Kings 2 (SO)
In Buffalo, Cody Hodgson scored two goals, Ryan Miller made 43 saves and the Sabres beat Los Angeles to avoid matching the worst home start in NHL history.
Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis scored in the shootout for Buffalo (4-15-1) and Miller stopped both Kings shooters. The Sabres were winless in their first nine home games, one short of the NHL record set by Pittsburgh in 1983-84.
Sharks 3, Flames 2 (OT)
In Calgary, Brad Stuart scored 1:13 into overtime to propel San Jose to a victory over the Flames that snapped a five-game winless streak.
Stuart joined the rush and broke for the net and had Joe Thornton’s shot deflect off him and past Reto Berra for the winner.
Coyotes 3, Blues 2 (OT)
In St. Louis, Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored 56 seconds into overtime and Mike Smith made 37 saves to give Phoenix a victory over the Blues.
Ekman-Larsson, who had an assist on the Coyotes’ first goal, took a pass from Mike Ribeiro and beat goalie Jaroslav Halak with a shot from just inside the blue line.
Devils 3, Rangers 2
In New York, Dainius Zubrus netted the tiebreaking goal with 2:55 left, Ryan Carter scored his first two goals of the season and New Jersey snapped the Rangers’ three-game winning streak.
Zubrus put in a loose puck after his shot was blocked by defenseman Dan Girardi for his third goal. That was enough to give Martin Brodeur a third straight win.
Capitals 4, Blue Jackets 3 (OT)
In Washington, Alex Ovechkin put in a rebound 1:34 into overtime.
Ovechkin’s 14th goal of the season came when he was perched by the crease to stuff in the puck after Marcus Johansson’s shot was saved by Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
Hurricanes 2, Avalanche 1
In Raleigh, North Carolina, Jordan Staal and Patrick Dwyer each had a goal and an assist and the Hurricanes handed Colorado its first loss in seven road games this season.
Carolina goalie Justin Peters stopped 33 shots, while the Avs’ Semyon Varlamov made 26.
Islanders 3, Predators 1
In Uniondale, New York, John Tavares, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Kyle Okposo scored, and Kevin Poulin made 32 saves as the Islanders beat Nashville to snap a four-game losing streak.
Jets 3, Red Wings 2 (SO)
In Detroit, Devin Setoguchi and Andrew Ladd scored in the shootout to give Winnipeg the win.
Bryan Little and Zach Bogosian netted goals for the Jets in regulation. Ondrej Pavelec made 41 saves.
Lightning 2, Canadiens 1 (SO)
In Montreal, Valtteri Filppula scored the only goal in the shootout and Tampa Bay topped the Canadiens in their first game without Steven Stamkos.
The Lightning were without Stamkos, their leading goal scorer, who broke his right leg after crashing into the net against the Bruins on Monday.
Flyers 5, Senators 0
In Ottawa, Jakub Voracek scored twice, Steve Mason made 24 saves and Philadelphia shut out the Senators.