VANCOUVER – There was hatred for Mike Matheson, love for Roberto Luongo and a 5-1 win for the Vancouver Canucks over the Florida Panthers. So, after all, a very lively Sunday night at the Rogers Arena.
Canucks defender Ben Hutton scored the winning goal at 7:20 of the third quarter, breaking a 1-for-1 draw by hitting a high angle rebound after Jay Beagle won an offensive zone. He finished the unbeaten run of three Vancouver games.
It was Canucks' first game against the Panthers since Matheson, a Florida defender, competed with Vancouver rookie Elias Pettersson on Oct. 13 with a bodyslam behind the game in the third period of the Canucks 3-2 victory. Unaccustomed in the fall, Matheson was suspended by the NHL for two games, while Pettersson was left six with the head injury.
The lack of a physical response from Canucks to Matheson that night – Vancouver players were not sure what had happened behind the game and coach Travis Green ordered them to focus on winning the game – became a debate in Vancouver .
The embers were still glowing when the Panthers visited the Rogers Arena exactly three months later. Matheson was booed every time he dealt with the disc and at first declined the challenges of getting involved with Canucks Jake Virtanen and Antoine Roussel.
Virtanen received a deforestation penalty at 9:26 am when he attacked after a whistle. He was looking for Matheson, but decided to handcuff Florida star Jonathan Huberdeau.
At 17:31 opening time, Canuck Erik Gudbranson and Panther Michael Haley fought after a feud in the kind of staged fight that became almost extinct in the NHL.
There was nothing the Canucks could do to make the Matheson fight, so they turned their attention to gradually taking over the game. They overcame the Panthers 27- 15 in the first two periods, but only got one puck in addition to Luongo, the popular former Canuck who was possibly making his last appearance in Vancouver.
And yet, the goal came only after a horrendous draw of Mike Hoffman, who had his pass not pressed on the defensive zone knocked over by Canuck Loui Eriksson. The $ 36 million, which went dead in eight games, loaded the disc before putting it around Luongo at 12:32 p.m.
Nikolay Goldobin, whose collar never extends far from Green's dog house, suffered a penalty in the first round of the third period and a second after the expiration, the Panthers drew 1-1 at 5:29.
Frank Vatrano was open for the Canucks, gave a pass from Henrik Borgstrom and impressively turned a backhand to the top corner behind goalkeeper Jacob Markstrom.
The Panthers were tied for less than two minutes.
After Hutton scored, Brock Boeser and Beagle increased their target balance before Markus Granlund defeated Luongo 11 seconds from time, with Canucks to draw points for the Western Conference playoff spot.
Pettersson lost his third game with a knee injury, suffered another unpunished fall behind the play. He was stopped by Montreal Canadiens midfielder Jesperi Kotkaniemi on January 3. The Canucks expect Pettersson to practice with the team on Monday or Tuesday. The Edmonton Oilers visit Vancouver on Wednesday.