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Unlikely scorers help Panthers pull out 3-2 win over Carolina

Cats keep flickering postseason hopes alive

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at Florida Panthers Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Petrovic scored with 7:58 left in the third period to give the Florida Panthers a much-needed 3-2 win over the visiting Carolina Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes opened the scoring just 3:44 into the first period when Trevor van Riemsdyk snuck down from the point to bang home a rebound after Roberto Luongo denied Brock McGinn on the doorstep. The second assist on the goal went to veteran Justin Williams.

The Panthers responded quickly, with MacKenzie Weegar getting the tying goal just nineteen seconds later. After taking a pass at the blue from Denis Malgin, Jared McCann dropped to Weegar, who moved in Scott Darling before chipping the puck up over his glove to get his second goal.

After working a nice give and go with Vincent Trocheck, Aleksander Barkov found Evgenii Dadonov wide-open in the slot and he beat Darling with a low shot with ten seconds left in the frame to give the Cats the lead. The power-play goal came with Elias Lindholm off for hooking.

Carolina took advantage of a poor line change by the Panthers to knot the score with 6:12 left in the second period. Defenseman Klas Dahlbeck bounced the puck off the boards to Lee Stempniak and he centered to Derek Ryan, who finished with backhander between Luongo’s legs.

Luongo came up with a huge save on Haydn Fleury in the third, robbing the defenseman with his glove to set the stage for Petrovic’s heroics. Luongo finished the game with 27 stops.

Petrovic kept the Panthers’ slim playoff chances alive when he fired a shot through traffic from along the right boards at the 12:02. Colton Sceviour freed the puck behind the net and Barkov passed it up to the open Petrovic, who notched his second goal of the season.

Buoyed by rare goals from Weegar and Petrovic, and a solid performance from Luongo,the Panthers pulled within five points of the New Jersey Devils in the chase of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Florida, who still has a game in hand, will likely need to win out, while the Devils must lose at least two of their last three games. Florida has its work cut out for it, getting right back at it tonight with a game against the Nashville Predators, the top team in the NHL. The Devils will host the New York Rangers.

Full Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)

Wind & Water

  • The Panthers hit forty wins for just the fifth time in franchise history (1995-96, 1999-2000, 2008-09 and 2015-16). They’ve done twice in the last three seasons, hopefully a sign of things to come.
  • MacKenzie Weegar’s goal was his first since October 30. Alex Petrovic’s only other goal came on February 14th versus Vancouver.
  • Carolina’s Derek Ryan has two goals and five assists during an NHL career-high five-game point streak
  • Aleksander Barkov ended a three-game scoring slump with his two-assist performance. Barkov became the first Panther to reach 50 assists since Olli Jokinen did it in 2006-07.
  • Scott Darling’s first year in Carolina struggles continued. Darling made 32 saves in the loss which dropped his record to 13-20-7.
  • In addition to his helper on Evgenii Dadonov’s 27th goal, Vincent Trocheck had four shots, three hits, two takeaways and won 10 of 17 draws.
  • Canes Country has the other side of the storm. Florida went 1-1-1 against the Hurricanes.