Panthers Beat Avalanche – Ekblad Gets Quick OT Winner

DENVER — Aaron Ekblad scored 26 seconds into overtime, Roberto Luongo stopped 36 shots to earn career win No. 485 and the Florida Panthers beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 on Monday night.

The winning play was set up when Mike Hoffman sped down the ice, spun past defenceman Samuel Girard and sent a pass over to Ekblad, whose shot slid through the pads of Semyon Varlamov. The Avalanche fell to 1-12 in OT this season.

Florida Panthers Aaron Ekblad
Florida Panthers Aaron Ekblad (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

Hoffman had a goal midway through the third period to tie the game. Troy Brouwer and Evegenii Dadonov scored 1:09 apart late in the second period to erase a 2-0 deficit. The win moved Luongo past Ed Belfour for third place on the career list.

Derick Brassard, Mikko Rantanen and Tyson Jost scored for the Avalanche as their four-game winning streak was halted. Varlamov made 34 saves.

Brassard nearly had the winner in his Colorado debut on a goal with 12:11 remaining. But his former teammate, Hoffman, stole his thunder by tying it minutes later.

It was a wild day for Brassard, who woke up Monday morning as a member of the Panthers only to be traded to the Avalanche. He was acquired along with a conditional sixth-round draft pick from Florida for a 2020 third-round selection.

Before the game, Brassard said he was going to go out and “have fun. Try to keep it simple.”

Colorado Avalanche Derick Brassard
Colorado Avalanche center Derick Brassard (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The 31-year-old Brassard jumped into the arms of Jost after scoring. He then skated past the Florida bench before bumping fists with his new Colorado teammates.

Trailing 2-0 late in the second period, the Panthers got a goal from Brouwer followed by a power-play score from Dadonov with 24.8 seconds remaining to tie it.

Until then, it was a middle period controlled by the Avalanche. Jost gave them a 1-0 lead early when his wrist shot bounced off Brouwer and past Luongo. Rantanen added another goal on a nifty move when he slammed on the brakes to allow Keith Yandle to slide by and then wired in a shot for his 26th goal.

It could’ve been more if not for Luongo, who robbed Nathan MacKinnon with an incredible glove save. Later, Luongo turned back Carl Soderberg’s breakaway attempt with a pad save.

Varlamov was chosen the NHL’s first star for last week after going 3-0 with a 1.34 goals-against average. He stopped 40 shots in a shutout against Vegas.

NOTES: The Panthers agreed to a three-year extension with forward Frank Vatrano. … Yandle played in his 776th consecutive game, tying him for fifth in NHL history with Craig Ramsay. … Avalanche LW Matt Nieto will be sidelined six to eight weeks with a lower-body injury. “Unfortunate for him. He’s been such a big part of this team and what he brings, his energy,” GM Joe Sakic said. … D Ian Cole (upper body) is skating with the team. Colorado coach Jared Bednar said there’s no timetable for his return.


Panthers: Second game of a back-to-back Tuesday in Arizona.

Avalanche: Conclude a two-game homestand Wednesday against Vancouver.


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Pat Graham, The Associated Press