Harper scores first two NHL goals to lift Panthers over Avs

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Shane Harper scored his first two NHL goals to lift the Florida Panthers over the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 on Saturday night.

Vincent Trocheck and Jonathan Marchessault each had a goal and an assist and Aaron Ekblad also scored a goal for the Panthers while Roberto Luongo made 26 saves.

Matt Duchene and Blake Comeau scored goals for the Avalanche. Semyon Varlamov made 33 stops.

The Panthers blew the game open in the third period as they scored three of four goals in a span of 2:26.

Ahead 2-1, Marchessault skated in on a breakaway and fired the puck between the pads of Varlamov at 4:30 to make the score 3-1. Harper followed with his second goal of the game on a one-timer from in front to stretch the lead to 4-1.

Duchene poked in a rebound past Luongo 16 seconds later to close the gap to 4-2.

Trocheck slid a loose puck into the net at 6:56 to make the score 5-2.

The Panthers took 17 shots and scored two goals in the second period.

Florida had a 2-1 lead on the goal by Harper with 2:58 left in the second. Greg McKegg stole the puck from Duchene in the neutral zone and brought it down the left side. McKegg passed to Harper in front and he poked the puck over the glove of Varmalov for his first goal.

Trailing 1-0, the Panthers evened the score at 1-all on the power-play when Ekblad took a feed from Jagr low in the left circle and one-timed the puck past Varlamov at 1:30. Ekblad recorded his first point of the season.

Comeau’s power-play goal gave the Avalanche a 1-0 lead at 7:38 of the first. Tyson Barrie shot from the blue line and Comeau tipped the puck past Luongo on the glove side. The goal was the first the Panthers have allowed on the power-play in nine opportunities.

A coach’s challenge by Colorado overturned a goal by Jason Demers midway through the first. His slapper got past Varlamov but the officials ruled Vincent Trocheck was offsides before the shot.

Notes: Avalanche C John Mitchell missed the game with a lower-body injury. … Panthers LW Jussi Jokinen missed the game with a knee injury. … The Panthers entered the game as the only team in the NHL yet to allow a power-play goal but the streak ended in the first period.

UP NEXT:

Avalanche: Host Winnipeg Jets on Friday.

Panthers: Visit Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.

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