SUNRISE, Fla. -- Left winger Shane Harper waited nearly three decades for his first NHL goal ... and then got his second marker just eight minutes and 23 seconds of game action later.

The 27-year-old Harper's contribution helped the Florida Panthers earn a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night at the BB&T Center.

After the game, Harper -- who spent seven years in the minors -- was asked if this was a moment he thought would never come.

"There were times when you had doubts," said Harper, a 5-foot-11, 195-pounder from Valencia, Calif., who went undrafted. "But I'm pretty confident in myself. I just needed a shot."

Harper was originally signed by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010 and traded to the New York Islanders in 2013. After the Islanders allowed him to become a free agent, Harper had a breakout season with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League, scoring 32 goals in 2014-2015.

He signed with the Panthers on July 1, 2015 and he played in the AHL last season with the Portland Pirates. Among his teammates last season at Portland was center Greg McKegg, who was the player who assisted on Harper's first NHL goal on Saturday.

That goal thrilled Harper's teammates and also helped lift a squad that is missing three of its top six forwards due to injury -- Jonathan Huberdeau, Nick Bjugstad and Jussi Jokinen.

"I think you guys all know how tight a group we have in here," Panthers center Vincent Trocheck said. "To see (Harper), 27 years old and finally get his first NHL goal and then pop two in the same day was definitely exciting."

The Panthers (3-1-1) broke open a close game by scoring three goals within a span of 2:26 in the third period. In order, that barrage came as the result of goals by Jonathan Marchessault, Harper and Trocheck.

Florida got second-period goals from Aaron Ekblad and Harper. For Ekblad, who is just 20 years old and in his third year in the league, it was his 28th career goal, tying him for fifth place in franchise history among defensemen.

Colorado (3-2-0) got goals from Blake Comeau in the first period and Matt Duchene in the third.

"We made some crucial mistakes," Colorado captain and left winger Gabriel Landeskog said. "We weren't good enough."

The win went to Roberto Luongo, who made 26 saves.

Colorado's Semyon Varlamov (33 saves) took the loss.

Florida overcame an apparent goal that was wiped out, which was the second time in two games that has happened to the Panthers.

This time, Jason Demers' would-be goal with 10:07 left in the first period was taken off the scoreboard after a coach's challenge by Colorado's Jared Bednar. As it turned out, Bednar was right -- Trocheck was ruled offsides.

Colorado opened the scoring with 12:22 left in the first period on the goal by Comeau, with assists from Duchene and Tyson Barrie.

That ended Florida's distinction as the only NHL team this season not to allow a power-play goal. The Panthers had gone 8-for-8 on the penalty kill.

"I like the way the game started, the first period," Bednar said. "But we weren't able to sustain it."

Indeed, Florida tied the score 1-1 on Ekblad's power-play goal with 18:30 left in the second period. After getting a great cross-ice pass from Jaromir Jagr, Ekblad, perfectly set up inside the left circle, one-timed a shot past Varlamov.

The Panthers took a 2-1 lead with 2:58 left in the second period. Facing a defensive-zone face-off, McKegg stole the puck and raced up the ice before making a brilliant cross-ice pass to Harper on the right side. Harper tapped the puck in for his first NHL goal.

Florida put the game out of reach in the third period. Marchessault, who leads the team with seven points in five games, scored on a breakaway to make the score 3-1.

Harper followed with a goal on a two-on-one rush. And after the goal by Colorado's Duchene, Trocheck made it 5-2 by getting a "dirty goal", jamming the puck in from the crease.

"We may have picked up a few lazy habits that came back to bite us," Bednar said. "But Florida is a fast team. They played fast, too."

NOTES: Panthers LW Jussi Jokinen missed the game after taking a high stick in the third period of a loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday. He suffered a cut on his mouth and has also battled knee soreness since representing Finland earlier this year in the World Cup of Hockey. ... Florida also scratched LW Shawn Thornton and D Steven Kampfer. ... Florida recalled forward Kyle Rau, 23, from Springfield of the AHL. Rau (5-8, 178 pounds) is a Minnesota native and was Florida's third-round pick in 2011. ... Two Avalanche veteran newcomers this season -- C Joe Colborne and D Patrick Wiercioch -- are former University of Denver teammates. ... Colorado C John Mitchell (hip) is out. ... Colorado also scratched RW Rene Bourque and D Fedor Tyutin. ... Colorado, which ended a four-game road trip, won't play again until Friday, when it plays host to the Winnipeg Jets. ... Florida starts a four-game trip on Tuesday at the Pittsburgh Penguins.