Panthers start fast in 3-1 victory over Stars

Cats snap four-game losing streak with win in Big D

The Florida Panthers ended 2016 with a bang, defeating the Dallas Stars 3-1 in front of a capcity New year’s Eve crowd at American Airlines Center to end a four-game losing streak.

Vincent Trocheck lit the lamp for the third straight game to open the scoring 3:06 into the action. After taking a feed from Jaromir Jagr, Trocheck’s initial shot was stopped by Dallas starter Antti Niemi, but he was able to knock in the rebound. Seth Griffith picked up the secondary assist on the play that started off with a Mike Matheson interception in the neutral zone.

Some fine puck movement resulted in the Panthers’ second goal at the 15:32 mark. Jussi Jokinen capped off some crisp passing by firing the puck into the top corner of the net after a nice set up from Trocheck. Reilly Smith collected the second helper on the power-play marker.

Jagr notched his 756th career goal 1:08 later with the Cats enjoying another man-advantage to chase Niemi, who surrendered three goals on seventeen shots. After taking a dish from Keith Yandle, Jonathan Marchessault set up Jagr with a cross-ice pass and the ageless wonder went five-hole to turn on the red light.

The Stars got their only goal when Patrick Eaves chipped a loose puck by James Reimer with 3:28 left in the second period. Tyler Seguin tried to find Jamie Benn in front, but the puck went off his skate and Eaves was in position to send it home.

Reimer shut the door on Dallas in the third period, stopping all twenty shots to preserve Florida’s two-goal lead. The 28-year-old finished with 35 saves to post his fifth win of the season.

The Panthers will return home to open 2017 with a three-game homestand that sees Winnipeg, Nashville and Boston visit the BB&T Center.

Giants & Dwarfs

  • Jaromir Jagr’s assist was the 1,135th of his career, tying him with Paul Coffey for fifth all-time in that category.
  • Aaron Ekblad finished the game with a team-high five shots and added three blocks and a hit in 20:24 TOI.
  • Keri Lehtonen stopped all 18 shots he faced after entering with 3:20 left in the first period to relive Antti Niemi.
  • The Panthers went a perfect 2 for 2 on the power play and moved up to 22nd in the league with a 16.2% conversion rate.
  • The last time Jussi Jokienen scored was in a December 6 loss to Philadelphia. Jokinen only has three goals, but now two of them are game-winners.
  • Greg McKegg returned from Springfield to make his 20th appearance of 2016-17. McKegg registered a shot on goal, two blocks and three hits filling for the injured Colton Sceviour. Well done, sir.
  • All isn’t quiet on New Year’s Day at Defending Big D. They’ve got the other side of Florida’s dimming of the Stars./