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Coyotes suffer third period collapse, fall 4-1 to Panthers

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In a game full of penalties and being heavily outshot 38-22, the Arizona Coyotes lost 4-1 to the Florida Panthers.

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Only a couple minutes in, Arizona thought they took the lead from Logan Cooley firing a shot past Sergei Bobrovsky. Instead, the officials emphatically waved off the potential goal as Bobrovsky was bumped into by a Coyote, impeding his movement in Florida’s crease.

The Panthers built sustained pressure in their offensive zone onwards as they kept crisply passing the puck before someone buried the opening tally.

Breaking the deadlock, Carter Verhaeghe netted his 19th goal of the season for a 1-0 Florida lead 9:14 in..

Arizona tried to answer with two dangerous opportunities immediately after, but Bobrovsky was resilient, stopping 21-of-22 shots he faced.

Florida continued to clog the neutral zone and push the Coyotes to the side boards, causing Arizona to only have seven shots after the first period.

The game went from defensively tight and to a gritty, chippy and physical encounter that flipped in Florida’s favor.

Former ‘Yote Nick Cousins appeared to deliver a late hit on Juuso Välimäki towards the end of the middle frame. As a result, Välimäki’s teammate Jason Zucker was furious and boarded Cousins from behind.

A scrum formed before Zucker dropped the gloves with Gustav Forsling and fought.

In the third, Kerfoot went on a shorthanded breakaway before flipping the puck over the left shoulder of Bobrovsky.

The Coyotes crowd erupted after Kerfoot tied the game 1-1, sending Mullett Arena into a frenzy, maintaining the belief that there was still a chance that Arizona could pull off a win.

However, it did not faze Florida as they kept throwing everything they could towards Karel Vejmelka.

Soon, Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Reinhart both scored in a 0:42 span to formulate a two-goal margin for the Panthers, 3-1.

‘Yotes fans became irate quick about the officiating, voicing their displeasure and criticizing the calls that the refs made.

With a fight already, Forsling iced the game with an empty netter, sealing a 4-1 win for Florida.

Taking 40 penalty minutes and the power play goal by Reinhart being the eventual game-decider, Kerfoot summed up what transpired after being shorthanded as much as the Coyotes were.

“Probably took too many penalties today,” Kerfoot said. “You give a team like that enough opportunities, they’re gonna capitalize.”

Reflecting on the third period in particular, ‘Yotes head coach André Tourigny expressed his thoughts on what he saw from his team down the stretch.

“I think in the third, we got emotional and we had a tough time staying focused, keep our composure and stick with it,” Tourigny said.

Final Notes

Florida snapped Arizona’s two-game winning streak to start 2024 as the ‘Yotes are now 19-15-2.

In contrast, Florida’s victory expands their recent run to five consecutive wins, improving to 23-12-2.

The Coyotes will look to rebound as they have a date with the New York Islanders on Thursday in Tempe.

On Jan. 4, the Panthers will head to Vegas for the second installment of the 2022-23 Stanley Cup rematch against the Golden Knights this season.

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Alec Cipollini is a reporter of the Arizona Coyotes and Cardinals for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on his X account @AlecCipollini

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