Jaromir Jagr notched a goal and added two assists and Vincent Trocheck scored twice and pitched in a helper to power the Florida Panthers to an entertaining 6-3 victory over the visiting Detroit Red Wings. The win was Florida's fifth straight and gave them a seven-point lead in the Atlantic Division, with second-place Tampa Bay holding one game in hand
Brandon Pirri, returning after four games in the press box, opened the scoring with his tenth goal of the season 8:30 into the contest. Pirri made a tidy little deflection of Alex Petrovic's drive from the point to beat a helpless Jimmy Howard.
Jagr drew the secondary helper for the 1,100 assist of his mind-boggling career. The 43-year-old is only the sixth player in NHL history to reach that plateau. The others: Wayne Gretzky, Ron Francis, Mark Messier, Ray Bourque and Paul Coffey. I'd say, that's pretty good company.
Aleksander Barkov bagged a power-play goal 2:11 later to put the Cats up by two. Reilly Smith and Aaron Ekblad collected the assists on Barkov's pretty backhander from close quarters. The third-year pro is now just one goal away from equaling his career-high. How good is this kid on his backhand... jeez.
The Panthers offense continued to roll the Wings with Trocheck striking 25 seconds after Barkov to make it 3-0, Cats. After taking a pass from Jagr, GI Tro roared up ice and split two defenders before ripping the puck past Howard for his sixteenth goal.
The Red Wings would pull one back with seven seconds left in the opening stanza. Dylan Larkin, who was left wide open in front, cashed in with Detroit on power play after some hard work along the boards by Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader.
Calder-candidate Larkin would score again 1:01 into the second period to get the Wings right back in it. The rookie carried the puck up ice and snapped a shot over the glove of Roberto Luongo for his seventeenth.
The Panthers would come up with a pivotal goal at the 16:13 mark to regain control. After taking a pass from Corban Knight, Pirri's centering feed found the body of Derek MacKenzie and crossed the goal line to give the Cats some breathing room.
Jagr would wire home a one-timer after taking a backhand dish from Trocheck with Florida on a power play at 3:45 of the third. Jussi Jokinen added the second assist to join the point parade.
To their credit, the Red Wings would not fold. Mike Green fired home another power-play marker at 12:36, from Abdelkader and Tomas Tatar, to cut the deficit to two.
Trocheck would complete the scoring, with Smith and Jokinen registering the assists, with his second of the night into an empty net after Detroit pulled Howard with almost six minutes left to go in the game.
Gears & Spokes
- Jaromir Jagr's three-point night left him 12 points shy of passing the great "Mr. Hockey" Gordie Howe for third all-time in NHL scoring. That should happen sometime in March, if not sooner. Jagr's goal ended an eight-game drought.
- Roberto Luongo, who finished with 36 stops, moved past Tony Esposito to take sole possession of seventh-place on the NHL's all-time wins list with 424. Lu is 13 away from equaling sixth-place Jacques Plante. Luongo has now won nine straight starts at the BB&T Center.
- The Panthers set a new club record by scoring five or more goals in four consecutive games. Florida has outscored its opponents 25-8 on this five-game winning streak.
- Vincent Trocheck took the team lead in the goal-scoring department by finding the empty net for his seventeenth of the season, one better than Jagr and Reilly Smith.
- After giving Washington's power play eight chances in D.C., the Cats gave the Wings seven ops last night. I know they are constantly a victim of questionable calls, but the Panthers need to find way to co-exist better with the NHL's crew of zany zebras. That's just too much time shorthanded.
- As they are wont to do, war-on-ice gets all fancy for you right here.
- Panic in Detroit? No need, the folks at Winging It In Motown will treat right if you want the other side of Florida's latest win.
- NHL.com has a nice highlight package for you to feast your eyes upon if you missed the game or just want to see a bunch of pretty goals again.