The Florida Panthers and backup goalie Harri Sateri won for the fourth-straight time, posting a 3-1 victory over the visiting Vancouver Canucks to close within six points of the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Buoyed by a couple of key early saves from their third stringer, Florida ended up outshooting the Canucks 17-9 in the first period and took the lead with 3:32 left in the frame when Jamie McGinn was credited with a power-play goal. McGinn took a pass from Denis Malgin down low, but couldn’t get a firm handle on it. Fortunately for the Cats, Vancouver’s Christopher Tanev swatted the loose puck into his own net.
After striking in the first, the Panthers power play gave one back 11:40 into second. Mike Matheson had his pass attempt blocked by Brandon Sutter in the neutral zone and the puck came to Markus Granlund, who skated in on Sateri, who was making his fifth start in a row, before beating him with a quick shot.
Aleskander Barkov notched the go-ahead goal 4:28 after Florida surrendered the shorty. After taking a pass in his own zone from Nick Bjugstad, Mark Pysyk threaded a feed through to Barkov at the Canucks blue line and he worked his away around defenseman Ben Hutton before slipping a backhand through the pads of former Panther Jacob Markstrom.
Barkov finally put the game out of reach when he chased down Vincent Trocheck’s hard clear off the boards and slid the puck into the empty net for his second of the night with 42 seconds remaining. Aaron Ekblad drew the second assist for tapping the puck to Trocheck after Henrik Sedin’s shot was blocked in the slot by his own teammate, Thomas Vanek.
While Barkov earned First Star honors, Sateri claimed second for his 26-save performance. Sateri best stop of the night was likely this one on Loui Eriksson’s redirection bid that came in the second period.
As mentioned above, the Panthers have moved within six points of the last playoff spot in the east, currently held by Columbus. Florida has two games in hand on the Blue Jackets and will wrap the three-game homestand Friday night against the Los Angeles Kings. James Reimer could be available for the game. It will interesting to see if rookie coach Bob Boughner will go back to the veteran or continue to ride the hot Finn.
Full Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)
Odds & Ends
- Aleksander Barkov scored two goals in a game for the first time this season. Barkov is now tied with Vincent Trocheck and Jonathan Huberdeau for the team lead in goals with 18.
- Speaking of Trocheck, in addition to his assist on the clinching empty-net goal,the second line pivot led all skaters with eight shots on goal.
- Speaking of Huberdeau, he saw his four-game point come to end. Hubderdeau registered three shots and took Florida’s only penalty of the game.
- Jacob Markstrom, delivered a high-quality start for Vancouver, finishing with 37 saves.
- Markus Granlund’s shorthanded goal was just his 8th of the season and first in 19 games.
- The Panthers are now 15-0-0 this season when leading after two periods.
- For the Left Coast Canadian-style take on this one, visit Nucks Misconduct.