Bo Horvat came through with the winning goal on a milestone night.
Horvat, playing in his 300th NHL game, scored the tiebreaking goal in the third period, leading the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.
“I think that was the icing on top,” Horvat said. “The win feels that much better.”
Horvat gave the Canucks their first lead when he took a nifty pass from Sven Baertschi in the left circle and sent a one-timer in at 6:11 of the final period.
“He couldn’t have made a better pass on his backhand to me, and all I had to do was tap it in from there,” Horvat said.
Antoine Roussel and Elias Pettersson also scored for the Canucks, and Anders Nilsson stopped 24 shots. Baertschi had two assists.
Canucks lose rookie Pettersson, Beagle
Pettersson left in the third period with an injury and did not return.
The 19-year-old was taken hard into the end boards, then slammed to the ice by Panthers defenceman Mike Matheson and needed assistance from the trainers to the locker-room.
Watch the play that sent Pettersson to the locker room:
“That’s a dirty play. The league is trying to protect the good young players and that’s just a dirty play,” Vancouver coach Travis Green said.
Matheson wasn’t penalized on the play, nor was he held accountable by any of Pettersson’s teammates with the game tied 2-2 at the time of the injury.
Horvat scored the go-ahead goal for Vancouver less than two minutes later, and Green felt holding on for the two points was of more value.
“We won the game, I’m not going to comment on retribution,” said Green.
Centre Jay Beagle also left with an injury after blocking a shot. No update was available on either player post-game.
“We had two centremen go down and we were stuck with two centres out there the last five minutes,” Horvat said. “To grind that one out and show the composure and the will to win there was great for our group.”
Panthers remain winless
Vincent Trocheck and Jonathan Huberdeau scored for the Panthers, who remain winless through three games. James Reimer made 27 saves.
The Panthers had the lead twice but each time the Canucks were able to even the score within a couple of minutes.
“Every time we take the lead it’s tough when the other team ties it up right after,” Florida coach Bob Boughner said. “That’s a pattern that’s got to change.”
The Panthers haven’t been able to build on their late surge of last season, when they went 25-8-2 and missed the playoffs by a point.
“Once we get a lead, we’ve got to learn how to win,” Boughner said. “Everything we worked hard for in the second half of last season, we’ve got to get some of that back.”
‘It’s very disappointing’
With the score tied 1-1, Trocheck put the Panthers ahead on a shot from the right circle the got past Nilsson on the glove side with 2:40 left in the second.
Less than a minute later, Roussel was awarded a penalty shot after he was hooked by Bogdan Kiselevich. Roussel beat Reimer on the glove side at with 1:45 left to tie the score 2-2.
“It’s very disappointing,” Panthers defenceman Keith Yandle said. “We’ve got to get on the horse and get going.”
Huberdeau gave Florida a 1-0 lead with 7:29 left in the second when he poked in his own rebound.
Pettersson tied the score 1-1 on a power-play goal with 5:12 left in the period as his wrister from the right circle beat Reimer. Pettersson tied the Canucks’ franchise record with a five-game point streak to start a career.