The Florida Panthers earned their first regulation victory over Vancouver in more than 12 years on Monday, beating the Western Conference-leading Canucks 2-1 in Sunrise, Florida.
Dmitry Kulikov and Marcel Goc each scored in the second period to erase a 1-0 deficit and the Panthers (21-13-8) held firm for their first regulation win against the Canucks since October 1999.
Backup goaltender Scott Clemmensen allowed a first-period score to Dale Weise just three minutes in, but recovered to make 25 saves as he got his second straight start in three games in place of the injured Jose Theodore.
“We believe that we can beat anyone in the league on any given night,” Clemmensen told reporters. “Vancouver is one of the best teams in the league. We think we can beat them. We showed it tonight.”
Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo had 20 saves as he returned to the place where he spent five seasons before being traded to the Canucks (26-14-3) in 2006.
The loss prevented Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault from becoming the Western Conference coach for the All Star Game in Ottawa.
That honor will go instead to San Jose’s Todd McLellan, whose team has the greatest points percentage in the Western Conference through Monday’s games.
Coming off an emotional 4-3 victory at Boston on Saturday in a rematch of last season’s Stanley Cup Final, the Canucks may have experienced a bit of a letdown.
“We’ve got to find the emotions to win this game,” Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin said. “It was there for us and we let it slip away.”
The Panthers were able to extend their lead in the Southeast Division to five points with the win.
In Monday’s other game, it was:
‧ Kings 5, Capitals 2