The Florida Panthers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks at BB&T Center.
Red-hot Aleksander Barkov opened the scoring just 2:22 with his sixth of the season. Jaromir Jagr loosed the puck behind for Seth Griffith with some heavy forechecking and Griffith’s short aerial pass found Barkov in front for the goal.
Derek MacKenzie scored the only goal in a wide-open second period that saw the teams combine for 34 shots (19-15 Panthers) on net. After Colton Sceviour was stopped by Jacob Markstrom, and Paul Thompson couldn’t knock the rebound home, MacKenzie was successful on the third try. Thompson’s assist was his first point in the NHL.
A pretty passing play between Barkov, Aaron Ekblad and Jagr gave the Cats a rare three-goal lead at the 1:05 mark of the third period. Barkov gained the zone and dished off to Ekblad, who passed back to Jagr. The 44-year-old was stopped by Markstrom, but Ekblad was able to backhand the rebound into the back of the net for his seventh.
Following up a two-goal effort in Tampa, former Panther Jack Skille ended Roberto Luongo’s shutout bid at 8:06, scoring on a beautiful individual effort. Skille skated over Sceviour in the neutral zone and then carved his way through Mark Pysyk and Ekblad before beating Luongo.
The Canucks crept closer when Vancouver’s wonder twins activated for a power-play goal 3:39 later. With Thompson in the box for slashing, Henrik Sedin fed Troy Stecher and his soft shot from the point was deflected off the ice and in from the high slot by Daniel Sedin.
Empty-net goals aren’t usually that exciting, but that wasn’t the case when Vincent Trocheck iced the game with 48 seconds remaining. After Pysyk and MacKenzie combined to get the puck to Trocheck, the speedy center dangled Stecher at the blue line and shot under the reaching stick of Ben Hutton to end his long-goal scoring drought with his first in 18 games.
The much-needed win put the Panthers back over .500 at 13-12-4. The victory, coupled with Toronto’s 4-1 decision over Boston, pulled the Cats within two points of the third-place Bruins. Florida will hit the road with stops in St. Paul, Winnipeg and Denver on the slate this week.
Toques & Ehs
- The victory was Florida’s first in regulation since they beat the Senators by a 4-1 count in Ottawa on November 19.
- Roberto Luongo started for the sixth time in the last seven games and turned away 37 shots to post his tenth win.
- Former Panther keeper Jacob Markstrom made 38 stops to help keep the Canucks in the game until they could rally in the third.
- Speaking of former Panthers, Erik Gudbranson played his first game in Sunrise in a different sweater. Guds registered a shot, two blocks, two hits and a +1 rating.
- The last time Vincent Trocheck turned on the red light was all the back on November 3, when he scored twice against New Jersey.
- Fort Lauderdale native Jayson Megna was in the lineup for Vancouver and finished with four shots on goal.
- In addition to his two points, Aleksander Barkov had six shots and posted a +3 rating. No wonder he was the game’s first star.
- Nucks Misconduct has the down and dirty side of last night’s affair.