ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Jakob Silfverberg hasn’t slowed down since signing his contract extension two weeks ago.
Silfverberg scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:33 left to give the Anaheim Ducks a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Sunday night.
It was his team-leading 22nd goal of the season and his sixth since getting a five-year, $26.5 million extension.
“He wants to be productive every night,” Ducks assistant coach Marty Wilford said. “He’s a competitive guy. He has a lot of pride, a lot of passion. ... You wish everyone could be like him.”
Adam Henrique and Daniel Sprong also scored for Anaheim, and Ryan Getzlaf had two assists. John Gibson stopped 37 shots.
On the go-ahead goal, Rickard Rakell won the puck behind Florida’s net and passed quickly to Silfverberg, who tapped it in for his 22nd of the season. The Ducks, winners of six of their last nine, pulled nine points behind Arizona for the second wild card in the Western Conference, with five other teams in between.
“I think we have been playing pretty good throughout the last three weeks,” Silfverberg said. “Even in these last few games, we have had some ups and downs, but we have done a really good job making sure that the down periods haven’t been too far.
“We managed to find a way to win and have been playing pretty good lately. We are feeling pretty good about ourselves.”
Anaheim is 9-9 since Bob Murray took over the coaching duties from Randy Carlyle.
“It seems that we have a different mentality,” Gibson said. “We just needed to change the atmosphere. It’s a little more upbeat and it just seems that we are playing more of a team game. I think the biggest thing I’ve noticed is our compete level, whether we are winning or losing. Even the other night in Arizona (a 6-1 loss) we were down and we still fought to the end.”
Evgenil Dadonov and Aaron Ekblad scored for Florida, and rookie goalie Sam Montembeault finished with 19 saves. The Panthers snapped a four-game winning streak, and remained eight points behind Columbus for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference with 10 games to play.
“The guys played hard,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. “I think we were a little bit sluggish at the start and got better as the game went on.
“I don’t think we allowed a lot, even though this game could have been 6-5 for either team. They had some breakaways and got behind us, we had our chances and we hit four or five posts. We didn’t get our bounce tonight but definitely the effort was there.”
The Panthers tied the score 3:33 into the third period when Jonathan Huberdeau crashed the net, feeding Ekblad at the last moment. Ekblad deflected the pass into the net for his 13th.
The Ducks opened the game’s scoring quickly, after getting an early power play. Shore flipped a rebound past Montembeault just 1:29 into the game for his ninth.
The Panthers, who played the previous night in Los Angeles, appeared sluggish in the first period but the Ducks were unable to convert several additional opportunities.
Florida scored just 14 seconds into the second, taking the initial draw and flying to the net, Dadonov finishing a nice give-and-go with his 25th.
The Ducks regained the lead with just under 8 minutes remaining in the middle period when Henrique took a crisp pass from Getzlaf to start a breakaway. The Panthers recovered, but Henrique slid right in front of the crease and snapped in his 17th.
NOTES: The Ducks swept both games in the season series, also winning at Florida on Nov. 28. ... Anaheim F Derek Grant appeared in his 200th regular season game. ... Rakell got his 231st point, moving within two of tying Andrew Cogliano for 10th place on the franchise list. ... Huberdeau had two assists, giving him 55 this season to set a franchise record. He came in tied with Viktor Kozlov, who had the previous record of 53 in 1999-2000 season. Huberdeau now has 227 for his career, two behind Robert Svehla for third on the franchise list. ... Dadonov now has three goals and nine points in his last six games. He is two points shy of his second straight 60-point season.
Panthers: At Dallas on Tuesday night.
Ducks: Host Winnipeg on Wednesday night.
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