A ter­rific start but lousy fin­ish

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Sports -

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 like we started to panic a lit­tle bit and get away from hav­ing Pan­thers goalie Roberto Luongo re­acts as Matthew Tkachuk cel­e­brates his third-pe­riod goal Fri­day night.

Pan­thers at Canucks

When/where: 7 p.m./Rogers Arena, Van­cou­ver

TV: Fox Sports Flor­ida; Ra­dio: 560-AM; 640-AM (Palm Beach)

Scout­ing re­port: 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).

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.

JEFF MCIN­TOSH/AP

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