Recap: Marchment goes wild as Panthers tame Minnesota by 6-2 count

Cats forward notches his first NHL hat trick

Mason Marchment posted his first NHL trick by scoring twice in the first period to answer Kirill Kaprizov’s game-opening power-play goal, and then put the finishing touches on the Florida Panthers 6-2 win over the Minnesota Wild with an empty net goal with 4:27 left in regulation.

Kaprizov got things started at 7:37 by jamming in a perfect shot-pass from Jared Spurgeon from a sharp angle thirty seconds after he was tripped by Radko Gudas. The second assist on the power-play marker went to Mats Zuccarello.

Marchment replied 2:55 later when Anton Lundell forced Jon Merrill into a turnover behind the Minnesota net. The puck came to Marchment, whose wraparound shot clunked off Cam Talbot’s blade and sputtered between the keeper’s pads.

Lundell would get credited with an assist on Marchment’s next goal for the nasty cross-slot backhand set up that Mason lifted over a diving Talbot. Sam Reinhart won the puck in the corner and hit the incoming rookie with a pretty nice backhand pass of his own to earn the secondary helper.

Jonathan Huberdeau became the first NHLer to hit 50 assists this season when after being failing to stuff in a rebound, he regained possession of the puck behind the cage and found Anthony Duclair open in the lower right circle and The Duke made no mistake to give the Cats a two-goal lead. Duclair became the third Panther to hit 20 goals in 2021-22 while Aaron Ekblad picked up his 33rd assist with the second helper.

That trio would all get their second points of the game 1:41 into the third period and Florida on the man-advantage. Huberdeau slipped a short pass to Duclair, who dropped back to Ekblad at the point. Ekblad thought about passing over to Aleksander Barkov, decided otherwise and instead skated into open space before beating Talbot with a hard wrister from the top of the left circle.

Zuccarello halved the deficit with another power-play goal for the Wild with the assists going to Kaprizov and Joel Erikkson Ek at the 9:42. The Panthers left Zuccarello alone in front and he redirected Kaprizov’s centering feed by a helpless Bobrovsky.

The Wild pulled Talbot early and Carter Verhaeghe made them pay at 13:18 when he tracked down MacKenzie Weegar’s dump out and calmy shot the puck into the empty net.

Marchment completed his hat trick 75 seconds later after Lundell won a draw a center his and fired the puck home from long range.

Florida has come back from the break with a vengeance, beating two of the league’s best on the road after taking a 15-day hiatus. The Panthers are now a much more respectable 11-7-5 away from FLA Live Arena after the impressive wins over Carolina and Minnesota, who was 16-3-1 at Xcel Energy Center coming into the game. Florida became the first team to hit 200 goals in this one (up to 203) and the third line combination of Lundell, Marchment and Reinhart is outscoring opponents 14-1 at 5-on-5. The Cats get Saturday off before finshing off the three-game trip against the struggling Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday afternoon.

Spiders & Snakes

  • Jonathan Huberdeau extended his point streak to six games. He leads the NHL with 51 helpers and his 68 points have him tied with Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid at the top of the scoring race. Huberdeau became the first Panther to have at least 50 assists in three different seasons.
  • Sergei Bobrovsky finished the game with 23 saves, including a big one from in-tight on Kevin Fiala early in the second period with the Cats up by just a goal, to get his 25th win.
  • Kirill Kaprizov’s first period strike was his 50th career goal and came in his 100th NHL game.
  • Speaking of milestones, Sam Reinhart played in his 500th NHL game. In addition to his assist, he went +3 and registered a shot, a hit and a block.
  • Anthony Duclair hit the 20-goal plateau for the third time. The Duke’s career high is 23 goals (2019-20 with Ottawa). He has 33 games left to eclipse that mark,
  • The Wild lost on home ice for the first since suffering a 4-1 defeat to the San Jose Sharks on November 16. Cam Talbot stopped 30 of 34 Florida shots. The Panthers are the only Eastern Conference team to beat Minnesota in regulation time this season.
  • Welcome back!. Noel Acciari had one shot, two hits and a block in 11:47 TOI in his season debut, and first NHL game since May. Acciari played two scoreless games for the Charlotte Checkers to ready himself.
  • For more on the win that gave the Cats the season-series sweep of Minnesota, visit Hockey Wilderness./

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