For Florida, the trip to San Antonio and their AHL affiliate was a great trip with one exception, the final score of their pre-season game against the Stars. Dallas scored the first three goals of the game and held on for a 4-1 victory to hand Florida their second straight loss.
Home to the Panthers' AHL Affiliate the San Antonio Rampage, the NHL teams treated a large crowd at the AT&T Center to some NHL flavor.
"I thought it was fabulous," said head coach Kevin Dineen following the game. "This is such a great affiliation. The Florida Panthers, we're very fortunate to be associated with the San Antonio basketball team here as well as have our minor league team here. Considered maybe one of the best run franchises in all of sports. It's a great partnership for us and obviously tonight was a reflection of that. A great turnout and a good mix (of fans). Some Dallas fans, understandably but certainly saw a lot of Panthers jerseys out there as well."
With Panthers jerseys scattered throughout the building, the home team got a great chance early as Jesse Winchester had a couple of chances in close on Dan Ellis but couldn't find the back of the net and the Stars would skate right down the ice to open the scoring.
Stationed in front of the net, Dallas forward Antoine Roussel would redirect a point shot from defenseman Trevor Daley past Michael Houser 4:25 into the game.
Roussel wasn't done on the night as he gave the Stars a 2-0 advantage just 45 seconds into the second period. Finding himself all alone in front of the net, the winger beat Houser with a low shot.
Florida had their chances, especially with the man advantage as they had four power plays but couldn't convert on any of them through the first 40 minutes.
Play stopped with 34.2 seconds remaining in the second period after a scary hit on Panthers forward Shawn Matthias. With the puck, Matthias was checked from behind and into the boards. After several minutes down on the ice, Matthias skated off on his own power.
"I think he's going to be fine," said Dineen. "We were very cautious of any hits to the upper part of the body and I think that was more of a cautionary check by our medical staff."
The teams traded power play goals in the third period. Houser, who finished with 24 saves, stopped Roussel's initial shot 2:37 into the third but Colton Sceviour jumped on the puck sitting in the crease to tap it in for the goal.
Florida finally found the back of the net a little over a minute later when with Marcel Goc setting a screen, tryout defenseman Tom Gilbert beat Ellis from outside the face-off circle on the Panthers fifth power play of the night.
"Our power play actually wasn't doing very well. We weren't getting shots to the net and that's the only way you score on power play," said Gilbert. "It was just keep it simple, just get bodies to the net. The puck went in because we had great screens and that's how you score those goals."
Dallas regained the three-goal advantage with 5:50 left to play thanks to a turnover in the Panthers zone. Travis Morin stole the puck from Alex Petrovic and found Chris Mueller to make it 4-1.
"We've been working on some system things and I saw a couple of snapshots of that tonight of some good things and some things that we need to continue to work on as a group," said Dineen. "We looked a little disjointed as well. We're still in that process of evaluating. The turn of finding the chemistry on the team is going to have to happen pretty quick."
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