Rookie Juho Lammikko dished out four helpers and Mike Hoffman scored the clinching goal late to extend his franchise-record scoring streak to 16 games as the Florida Panthers snapped a two-game losing streak with a wild 7-5 victory over the Ottawa Senators.
While the win was much-needed, it came at a heavy cost as the Panthers appear to have lost second line center Vincent Trocheck for the long term. Trocheck left on a stretcher after crashing into the boards trying to beat Ryan Dzingel to a loose puck late in the first period. The injury was to Trocheck’s right leg. We should know more details today.
After spotting Ottawa’s Matt Duchene, who got open behind the Florida defense, an early breakaway goal just 1:53 into the action, the Panthers roared back with four goals by the end of the frame.
Micheal Haley made an impact in his first game of the season. Strong forecheck work from Haley freed the puck for Lammikko to quickly feed Troy Brouwer to tie the game.
Aleksander Barkov lifted a rebound home to give the Cats a power-play goal and the lead with the assists going to Trocheck and Keith Yandle.
Call-up Dryden Hunt’s long aerial pass set Jared McCann free for a goal off a nice wrist shot from the slot at the 11:03 mark.
Evegenii Dadonov capped the torrid run with a tap-in as the puck was dropping down off the cross bar with under a second left in the period. Barkov deflected Aaron Ekblad’s shot from the boards on Craig Anderson and the puck bounced off the keeper and then off the bar for Dadonov to swat home.
Duchene took advantage off misplay behind the Panthers net to score into a yawning net 1:32 into second with the lone assist going to rookie Drake Batherson.
He returned the favor by setting up Batheson for a power-play goal 3:07 later. After a clean faceoff win, the puck came back to Duchene from the defense and he found Batherson’s wanting stick blade for the pretty redirection play.
After taking a pass from Ekblad behind the net, Lammikko found Haley cruising towards the cage and hit him with a pass that the grinder was able bury for a crucial goal at the 8:49 mark.
Frank Vatrano gave the Cats some more breathing room and chased Anderson when he scored off a beautiful saucer backhand pass from Lammikko at 16:49. Lammikko collected a loose puck in his own end and assertively led the rush up ice before finding Vatrano.
The Senators again pulled within a goal as Zack Smith got credited for Ottawa’s fourth tally when Bobby Ryan’s feed in front went off his body and in at 6:35 of the third and Brady Tkachuk put puck into an empty net after James Reimer made a diving stop to deny Mark Stone at the 9:30 mark.
Florida held on until a late 2-on-1 rush produced the clincher. Lammikko hit Hoffman in stride and he solved Mike McKenna with a sweet backhand finish to complete the scoring.
Lammikko’s Gretzky-esque perfomance set new club record for most assists by a rookie. All five of Lammikko’s points this season have come against Ottawa.
Reimer finished with 33 saves on 38 shots to pick up second win over the Senators in eight days.
It wasn’t pretty (fun to watch all the goals), but the Panthers withstood another poor defensive performance, a medical incident in the stands, and the huge loss of Trocheck to climb back over NHL .500 and nip their losing streak in the bud before it got out of hand. It will be interesting to see how the Cats adjust personnel-wise to the loss of Trocheck. Will, to the delight of the much of fan base, rookie Henrik Borgstrom be recalled to center the second unit, does Denis Malgin get the job or will the Panthers move Nick Bjugstad back to center?
Video Recap (courtesy of NHL.com)