A ter­rific start but lousy fin­ish

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Palm Beach (Sunday) - - Sports - As­so­ci­ated Press

CAL­GARY, Al­berta — Stuck on the bench for most of the first pe­riod, Michael Fro­lik got pro­moted and made the most of it.

Af­ter re­join­ing the sec­ond line with Mikael Back­lund and Matthew Tkachuk, Fro­lik had a goal and two as­sists to lead the streak­ing Cal­gary Flames to a 4-3 come­back vic­tory over the Florida Pan­thers on Fri­day night.

“It wasn’t the start I was look­ing for,” said Fro­lik, who had his first three­p­oint game in three sea­sons. “It’s not easy — you’re cold, you’re not in the game. When you get out there, you get a 10-sec­ond shift and then they switch the line.”

Down 2-0 in the sec­ond, Cal­gary got the come­back started at 10:14 when Fro­lik de­flected in Back­lund’s shot for his 11th goal.

The Flames tied it five min­utes later on a ter­rific setup by Fro­lik. Darting down the wing, he stopped sharply af­ter gain­ing the zone, then pa­tiently waited for Mark Gior­dano to jump up into the rush be­fore slid­ing a per­fect cross-ice pass that the cap­tain fired past goalie Roberto Luongo.

Florida coach Bob Bough­ner chal­lenged the goal, cit­ing goal­tender in­ter­fer­ence on Tkachuk, who slightly bumped Luongo sec­onds be­fore the puck went in, but the call on the ice stood.

An­other pri­mary as­sist from Fro­lik gave Cal­gary the lead 8:29 into the third. Pounc­ing on Jonathan Hu­berdeau’s turnover in­side the blue line, Fro­lik fed Tkachuk all alone in front for his 21st goal.

“I don’t know how he saw me. I was just hid­ing in the weeds back there and he made a great play,” Tkachuk said.

Fro­lik has eight points (four goals, four as­sists) in seven games since coach Bill Peters made him a healthy scratch on Dec. 29. It’s been a bumpy sea­son for the vet­eran, who has bounced be­tween lines and missed four weeks be­cause of to in­jury.

“He’s been awe­some,” coach Bill Peters said when asked how Fro­lik has han­dled it. “A good pro, vet­eran guy. He’s been in the league a long time.”

Peters wanted to roll four lines, but that didn’t ma­te­ri­al­ize due to the early deficit, so he jug­gled his per­son­nel and went down to three.

“We fell be­hind early and didn’t have any jump, so then we had to get go­ing with nine guys and try to get nine guys more ice time and a lit­tle bit more of an emo­tional at­tach­ment to the game,” he said.

Sean Mon­a­han scored into an empty net for the Flames (29-13-4). The Western Con­fer­ence lead­ers have won four games in a row to im­prove to 7-1-1 in their last nine.

Still, Peters isn’t happy with his team’s play of late.

“We haven’t played well here for a while and it’s been masked by the fact we’ve got wins,” the coach said.

Johnny Gau­dreau had an as­sist to ex­tend his point streak to seven games (seven goals, nine as­sists).

Mike Hoff­man, Hu­berdeau and Ev­genii Dadonov scored for Florida (17-18-8). The struggling Pan­thers have lost their last five.

“It seemed l i ke we started to panic a lit­tle bit and get away from hav­ing some poise and mak­ing plays that are needed with the puck,” Hoff­man said. “We kept chip­ping it back to them and then we weren’t able to change. Long change in the sec­ond pe­riod and they kept com­ing.”

Florida is 0-2-1 on its five-game road trip.

“At the end of the day, we had four or five glo­ri­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties to go ahead in this game and get the next goal and we never did. Give their goalie some credit. He made some big saves,” Bough­ner said.

Mon­a­han’s 24th goal ended up the game-win­ner af­ter Dadanov scored with 20 sec­onds re­main­ing.

David Rit­tich made 24 saves to im­prove to 17-4-3 for the Flames. Luongo, tested 23 times, dropped to 8-10-1.

Build­ing on a solid open­ing 20 min­utes, the Pan­thers surged in front by two on Hu­berdeau’s break­away goal 20 sec­onds into the sec­ond. Sprung in alone on a ter­rific pass by Keith Yan­dle, Hu­berdeau slipped a shot through Rit­tich’s pads.

Tak­ing ad­van­tage of a sleepy start by the Flames, who were out­shot 10-4 in the first, Florida scored the only goal of the pe­riod when Hoff­man got his 21st af­ter a turnover by Noah Han­i­fin.

Rangers break through in Brook­lyn

The Rangers knew all about their long-run­ning strug­gles in Brook­lyn. Any win over the Is­landers these days was go­ing to be wel­come.

Mats Zuc­carello’s well-placed skate sent the Rangers hap­pily back to Man­hat­tan.

Zuc­carello scored late in the third pe­riod, redi­rect­ing a shot from the point with his foot to lift the Rangers over the Is­landers 2-1 on Satur­day for their first-ever win at Bar­clays Cen­ter. Filip Chytil also scored and Alexan­dar Ge­orgiev made 24 saves to help the Rangers win in Brook­lyn for the first time since their in­tracity ri­vals be­gan play­ing home games there in 2015.

The Is­landers had been 13-2-0 in the teams’ pre­vi­ous 15 meet­ings over­all.

“We didn’t talk about it be­fore the game or any­thing, but I was well aware,” Marc Staal said. “It was nice to see that goal go in dur­ing the third.”

The Rangers had been 0-6-1 in their pre­vi­ous seven games in Brook­lyn, with their only point com­ing on Dec. 2, 2015 in a shootout loss.

Satur­day’s win was an im­por­tant one for the Rangers, who had been 0-5-0 in 2019. AP

JEFF MCIN­TOSH/AP

Pan­thers goalie Roberto Luongo re­acts as Matthew Tkachuk cel­e­brates his third-pe­riod goal Fri­day night.7 p.m./Rogers Arena, Van­cou­verFox Sports Florida; 560-AM; 640-AM (Palm Beach)The Pan­thers will be play­ing the fourth game of their five game road swing. … Florida is com­ing off a 4-3 loss to the Cal­gary Flames. … The Pan­thers coughed up an early 2-0 lead in that con­test. … The team will fin­ish off the road trip at Mon­treal be­fore re­turn­ing to the BB&T Cen­ter on Fri­day to face the Toronto Maple Leafs. … Van­cou­ver won the first matchup be­tween the teams, beat­ing Florida, 3-2, on Oct. 13. … The Canucks have lost three straight games. … Elias Pet­ter­son leads the team with 42 points (22 goals, 20 as­sists), while Bo Horvat has 36 (17 goals, 19 as­sists).

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