The Florida Panthers came home for a short one-game homestand to face the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night. The Cats are still on the outside looking in of the wild-card race as New Jersey and Philadelphia are desperately holding on to the final spots in the Eastern Conference. The Arizona Coyotes are mired in a race to the bottom once again as they sit 3 points behind the Buffalo Sabres for the worst record in the league and the best chance at nabbing the 1st overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.
The Florida Panthers paid respects once more to H. Wayne Huizenga, the team founder who passed away, before the game. Earlier this season, the team retired number 37 forever in what was Huizenga’s final trip to the building he helped build.
Tonight we remember the man who brought hockey to South Florida. Thank you, Mr. Huizenga. Your legacy will live on. pic.twitter.com/8EODZCjGpu— Florida Panthers PR (@FlaPanthersPR) March 24, 2018
The Florida Panthers also used the night to bring awareness to the conservation of the team’s namesake, the Florida panther.
In the first, the Panthers were unable to sustain much time in the Coyotes zone. James Reimer needed to make a great save on a breakaway by Arizona. Unfortunately, the Cats got behind the 8-ball at the 14:36 mark as Clayton Keller, the Arizona leading scorer, was able to slam home a great pass across the center of the ice. 1-0 Dogs.
In the second, the Coyotes got an early power play due to too much man on the Cats. Richard Panik then was able to score on a deflection that squeaked by Reimer. 2-0 Diamondbacks. Give credit to Darcy Kuemper as the Panthers were now playing with a sense of urgency as evidence by the 20 shots on net the Cats flung at Kuemper. The Cats ended the 2nd period down 2-0 to the second-worst team in the league. Something needed to be done before the Panthers playoff hopes turned into dead roadrunner.
Coach Bob Boughner made a jugging of the lines by moving up Jamie McGinn to the second line. The game continued on with some frustration as the Cats couldn’t get anything going until the 6:13 mark when Vincent Trocheck pinpointed a shot perfectly past Kuemper hugging the post to half the deficit at 2-1.
Trocheck’s 29th goal of the season came courtesy of Jamie McGinn (15 assists) and Keith Yandle (43 assists, 50 points).
Three minutes later, the Panthers begin to buzz as a shot from the blue line by Mark Pysyk rings off the post causing the Coyotes to scramble. In the ensuing chaos, Kuemper had no control of the puck as it was loose in the blue paint. With McGinn going hard at the net, Kuemper couldn’t view Trocheck who slid the loose puck under him to tie the game 2-2.
After a video review to see if there was goalie interference it was determined to be a good goal. Trocheck now has 30 goals on the year with the helpers from Mark Pysyk (12 assists, 15 points) and Jonathan Huberdeau (42 assists, 65 points).
With the game in its waning minutes the great effort by Darcy Kuemper to keep the Coyotes in the game was in vain as Denis Malgin whacked at a Colton Sceviour pass that deflected off a defending Coyote and the puck floated just above Kuemper’s right to give the Panteras a 3-2 lead.
Malgin’s 11th goal of the season (19 points) was possible due to the efforts of Sceviour (10 assists, 19 points) and Maxim Mamin (1 assist, 3 points).
With Arizona making one last push, it was too much for them to overcome the immense power of the tank as an empty net goal by Cats on the power play had the Coyotes packing their Acme branded products to go home to Toon World.
Jamie McGinn’s closer (12 goals, 24 points) was thanks to the generosity of Aleksander Barkov (48 assists, 74 points) and Vincent Trocheck (39 assists, 69 points [NICE]).
- Denis Malgin -FLA- Eventual game-winning goal
- Vincent Trocheck -FLA- 2 goals, 1 assist
- Darcy Kuemper -ARI- 43 saves
PUNTOS DE PANTERAS
- The New Jersey Devils stood their ground at home with a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Columbus Blue Jackets finally lost a game as the St. Louis Blues were able to crack the Jackets’ code. The Philadelphia Flyers were idle. The Panthers still remain 3 points back of New Jersey for the final playoff spot.
- The 2 points push the Gatos to 83 points. The Cats have now achieved a points percentage above .500 for the eleventh time in franchise history. The Cats have also surpassed their final record from last season, 81 points.
- In a radio interview with Joe Rose on 560 WQAM, Coach Bob Boughner called Vincent Trocheck the engine of the Florida Panthers and it is more than obvious why. Trocheck has shattered his career high in almost every category and has now reached 30 goals on the year. Makes me forget about that one dude that was picked in the expansion draft last offseason from us. Whatever his name is. Hope he’s alright for the Seattle Pilots or whatever that team is called out west.
- If any readers want to learn more about saving the Florida panther please check out the Florida Wildlife Corridor project, an idea to create a safe passage and sanctuary for not only the Florida panther to roam in the Everglades but other native wildlife in South Florida and Southwest Florida.
The Panthers will keep the playoff prowl going as they hop on the road to Brooklyn for a game against low-key rival, the New York Islanders. Please comment on the game below, thank your for reading, and we’ll see you on Monday.